BLACKkKLANSMAN : Spike Lee
John David Washington, Laura Harrier, Adam Driver, Jasper Pääkkönen
It’s been awhile since we’ve seen the best of Spike Lee and to be honest I really thought after that poor Oldboy remake he was on the decline, maybe putting one foot in retirement and joining some of the great filmmakers that now churn out average films for the masses failing to live up to their past glory’s, but after watching his latest in a pretty full cinema I can honestly say with a glint in my eye that Spike Lee is far from over – BlacKkKlansman is not only one of the most powerful movies of the year it’s also in my opinion Spike Lee’s greatest achievment in film with stand out performances from Laura Harrier, John David Washington & Adam Driver, an incredible score that sucks you into 1979 Colorado, some frightening obsenities shouted by Alec Baldwin’s character that sets the overal tone of the movie, some exhilarating camera work by Chayse Irvin and one helluva creepy performance from Jasper Pääkkönen – oh yeah and not forgetting that Corey Hawkins speech his delivery will stand your hair on end WOW – BlacKkKlansman is an unbelievable story, it has more humor than I expected and it’s last 20mins is a punch to the gut – SEE it on the BIG screen you won’t be disappointed ★★★★½
HOTEL ARTEMIS : Drew Pearce
Jodie Foster, Sterling K Brown, Sofia Boutella, Dave Bautista
Had an absolute blast watching Drew Pearce’s directorial debut Hotel Artemis – if I’m honest it’s a movie that went right under my radar but I’m so glad I caught up with it on the big screen – would you believe it’s been 5yrs since the legend Jodie Foster graced our screens with Elysium so watching this legend of our screens trade acting blows with Sterling K. Brown & Dave Bautista in this futuristic setting is worth more than double the ticket price – Pearce’s first attempt behind the camera follows writing work on Iron Man 3 and MI : Rogue Nation so he’s no beginner when it comes to classy, stylish story arcs with intriguing characters and some insane action thrown in – Hotel Artemis combines the lot, it has a great story at it’s core, a devilishly good ensemble, sublime cinematography and is executed better than most – don’t miss this one ★★★★
It may not have the first movies ambition or the second’s intensity but The Cloverfield Paradox is actually a shit load of crazy ass fun – firstly if your a fan of 2008’s Cloverfield and it’s sequel of sorts 2016’s wonderful 10 Cloverfield Lane then I’m pretty confident you will find something in Paradox that will appeal to your movie loving heart and although the films coupled to the others in the franchise it most certainly has it’s own identity, very dark at times with a side order of light hearted Evil Dead humor – like most low budget scifi Paradox unashamedly takes from other classics in the genre and why the hell not, one minute you will be reminded of Alien the next Aliens and Event Horizon and with a genius cast that includes David Oyelowo & Gugu Mbatha-Raw, some pretty neat effects and an atmospheric score by Battlestar’s Bear McCreary it’s a movie that really does warrent enjoyment (in a popcorn style movie kind of way) and secondly it’s on Netflix so it’s free (well sort of) ★★★½
After watching Bone Tomahawk back in 2015 my anticipation for the next S. Craig Zahler movie grew feverpitch, his simple style blended with a cult laid cast pumped with an explosive violent finale had me wondering how can this realatively new filmmaker top what I have classed as an instant cult classic? Well it only took 2 years and I had my answer BRAWL IN CELL BLOCK 99 is intoxicating in it’s execution, it’s sublime storytelling, it’s trade mark gut wrenching finale but most of all it’s one hell of a performance from Vince Vaughan as Bradley Thomas an ex-con boxer trying to make a living in any way which he can to provide for his wife and their unborn baby when all shit rains down and things get really ugly – Zahler’s writing and filmmaking style is kept simple but engaging, his use of character invention is spectacular almost Tarantino-esque, he knows how to deliver these weird, wonderful & downright nasty son of bitches to the screen, casting old pro’s such as Don Johnson to bring home key roles in his movies, and what about the great Udo Kier as the mysterious Placid Man, Kier’s role maybe small but it’s so pivotel and I can’t think of anyone I would rather play that role, Dexter’s Jennifer Carpenter gives a good turn as Bradley’s wife and Buffy’s Marc Blucas is eye catching as Bradley’s boss – but essentially Brawl in Cell Block 99 is Vince Vaughan’s movie, it’s a role that’s truly up there with some of the memorable film roles of all time, such as Travolta’s Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction, Nicholson’s Jack Torrance in The Shining and more, Vaughan at times prowls the screen like The Duke did back in the old western’s of yesteryear, his wrestling background and stature is used by Zahler to great effect giving his character this imposing look who carries this quiet yet unsettling demeanor, for me a bit like Vincent D’Onofrio’s Wilson Fisk, those fight scenes in the last 40mins are quite something….
So to be very clear Brawl in Cell Block 99 is not for everyone, if you hate violence & don’t like to hear bone crunching sounds or watch torture and all sorts of blood curdling tear ups then please stay well clear of this movie – but if like me you like your films hard hitting with slices of no nonsense movie escapism then you will revel in this brutal uncompromising cult classic – now I only have to wait till next year for S. Craig Zahler next movie the epic titled Dragged Across Concrete that stars Mel Gibson & Vince Vaughan, my mouth is drooling already…. ★★★★½
I know I know I know… another bloody remake…. well that was my initial reaction to the news that our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man was getting another outing with yet another cast and so soon after the Marc Webb movies landed…. but as always first reactions are not always the right ones, having now seen John Watts superhero movie I must say “what a ridiculously fun, coming of age thrill ride that blends the humor, action & darkness perfectly to create one helluva cinematic event” – Tom Holland (who I loved in Pigrimage and The Impossible) was so the right choice & delivers a magical turn as our webslinger, capturing the innocence and arrogance of a teenager that’s required for this movie, Holland is surrounded by quality at every turn, Aunt May is played by the delightful Marisa Tomei giving a new & younger slant on Peter’s guardian, Michael Keaton hits it out of the ball park playing the villain Adrian Toomes aka: Vulture and Robert Downey Jr who’s actually a good mentor to Peter and is fun to watch, some of his screen time in Homecoming I found better than his Avengers stuff – I have to be honest and say when I first heard of this latest remake I wanted it all to be a complete disaster, crash and burn and be complete garbage but Spider-man Homecoming is far from it, its an exceptionally well written comicbook adaption that took me back to my teens, reading the comics, watching the animated series & avoiding spiders at all costs – Overall this is one of the best Marvel Superhero Movies in recent times, it’s an action packed, John Hughes homage laiden big screen summer movie that I found totally engrossing and deliciously fun to watch…. ★★★★½
For those of you who follow me on social media or read this movie blog you will know by now that I adore Ridley Scott, his movies and all things Alien but in recent years I have been quite vocal on this legendary directors fall from the dizzy heights of yesteryear to churning out such ordinary movies, average affairs such as Robin Hood, The Counselor, Exodus: Gods and Kings and the pretty dismal Prometheus – I am so conflicted, the one side of me is so grateful to this legendary filmmaker for giving us so many iconic movies but the other side keeps asking the question “why does Ridley Scott continue to direct such sub par movies? take a leaf out of Tarantino and Cameron’s book, maybe direct a film every few years instead of every year?” it’s my opinion that these films will only tarnish his brilliant reputation – I really had hoped that Ridley had turned the corner back in 2015, I absolutley loved The Martian with Matt Damon this was a real return to form from a director in need of some resurection so when it was announced that a new Alien movie was in production a sequel to the dreadful Prometheus nevertheless I was pumped, excited and looking forward to maybe a new chapter in this great series of scifi indulgence…..
Sadly for me though Alien Covenant was not what I hope it would be, yes it was better than Prometheus (well that wasn’t hard now was it) and yes maybe over the last 10yrs The Martian aside it’s one of his better efforts but overall it was a big screen blockbuster that left me feeling flat, it was way too predictable, contained some shitty CGI that made the overall production feel shoddy and unpolished and although Covenant had it’s moments it’s narrative tried to over complicate things so the reasons why we loved the original movies were lost in this world, a franchise that was slowly becoming more about the androids than anything else – Ridley also thought it was a good idea to go all mystical on our asses so inserted some really strange Obi Wan moments featuring David from Prometheus, living like an old wise hermit in a cave, listening to wind chimes and blowing his flute delivering lines such as “you blow and I will do the fingering” I just found all this mumble jumble embarrassing, out of place and lacking any sort of vision, suspense and was almost laughable at times….
I am not saying that Alien Covenant as a movie is a complete disaster, for me it’s not got that Ridley Scott stamp on it – McBride and Fassbender are both terrific in their respective roles and some of the nice homages to previous movies were great to see but overall Covenant felt like a bad dream a two a penny slasher that felt like a rehash of the original movie that is desperately trying to emulate all the things that worked such as (face huggers, chest bursters, acid for blood and so on) yet delivering it all with no panach and most importantly zero tension, yeah it’s a shit load more violent than it’s predecessors but that’s nothing to be proud about, what made 1979’s Alien so damn good was it’s slow burning tension that’s gnaws away at you but with Covenant you feel nothing – most of the films undoing in my opinion is it’s lack of humanity I felt so disconnected to the crew of the ship, the characters in the movie were not developed enough so when they slowly start getting picked off I actually felt very little for them, I was numb and that overall summed up my experience with this movie at it’s finale – I just hope Ridley doesn’t out stay his welcome and he lets go of the Alien reigns and allows a new filmmaker to bring some fresh ideas to this much loved franchise ……★★★½
Geoffrey Orthwein & Andrew Sullivan have crafted something quite majestic in BOKEH an end of the world movie that flows like an Icelandic waterfall and captures the backdrop of Reykjavik like a painting, subtle with mouthwatering color, mystery and full of energy all of which adds to their movies narrative and overall feel….
The film starts with a young couple Jenai (Maika Monroe) and Riley (Matt O’Leary) both enjoying their vaction, taking photos and making the most of their gorgeous surroundings – the early snippets of the movie is like an advert for the perfect Iceland vacation, clips of the pair visiting such sites as the famous Geysirs, the many Waterfalls, the Islands moon like landscape & the enchanting Blue Lagoon – the film then switches to a scene where Jenai is standing looking out through her hotel window, it’s the middle of the night and a northern light storm engulfs the dark skylinefill appearing to approach Jenai’s position before disappearing into the night – suddenly as if a dream its now morning and Riley is waking Jenai up, they then leave their room hunting for some breakfast when they start noticing that there is nobody in the hotel and once outside they discover to their disbelief that the population of the city has vanished leaving the two of them isolated together in a city that is now empty of its character, its many voices, its smells and vibrancy – and then it hits home, they’re alone and now what do they do?….
This film took me by surprise, I had seen Maika and O’Leary in other projects but this movie and it’s filmmakers were not on my radar and having recently visited Iceland this gave the movie a sense of realism that totally captivated me, the films gorgeous photography, it’s haunting storyline and how the film looks at the plight of Jenai and Riley and the strain it takes on their relationship gave me chills, so as I sat their enthralled by Bokeh I wondered to myself what would I do if ever faced with this scenario? Towards the end of the movie I was aching for more, I wanted to see how the characters handled the harsh winter, the snow covering their now forced upon city and watch them take in the magical northern lights dancing across the sky, but sadly I guess Orthwein & Sullivan had to finish the movie at some point and its finale is both beautiful, tragic yet so befitting….
The film’s title Bokeh means the out-of-focus parts of an image taken from a camera lens and somehow depending on which side of the fence you sit can also describle how both the characters in the movie view the circumstances they find themselves in, one of them is slightly more happy to go with the flow and accepts their lot, the other cannot and will not accept that this has happened – Bokeh is an absolute delight from start to finish and one that I just can’t stop thinking about – from its stunning Icelandic location, refreshing exciting yet tragic storyline and two engaging performances by Maika and O’Leary Bokeh gives a twist and turn to the normal zombie infested “end of the world” style movie – a true hidden GEM and one that will divide opinion…. ★★★★