It’s with a heavy heart that we hear of the passing of one of the screen’s brightest and funniest stars in Cloris Leachman : for me her more memorable roles came with playing the likes of Ruth in The Last Picture Show for which she won the Academy Award, the hilarious Maw Maw in Raising Hope, her scene stealing film debut in Kiss Me Deadly, Madame Defarge in History of the World, Part I and of course my personal favorite Frau Blücher in Young Frankenstein : Cloris had a wonderful and varied career including eight Primetime Emmy Awards from 22 nominations, making her the most nominated awarded actress in Emmy history : she will be sorely missed down here, but up there a party is about to begin….
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 rock climber tries to save the day when a mysterious white gas envelops an entire district in Seoul, South Korea : EXIT (Eksiteu) is the directorial debut of Sang Geun Lee and having just watched it I can hardly wait for his next one : If like me you love Korean Cinema then this slice of movie heaven will make you laugh uncontrollably at it’s witty Korean humor whilst giving you heart palpitations watching some of the most fabulous, heart in the mouth action scenes around : the lead characters in the movie played by Jo Jung-suk and Im Yoon-ah are infectious and the story & special effects are stupendous : my favourite moment in the movie (and there are many) is watching Yong-nam smash through a hotel lobby window and go all Tom Cruise by diving out in crazy fashion in hope of reaching the rooftop of the hotel : It’s easy to see why EXIT topped the Korean Box Office, the film is really good at doing what the Korean’s do like no other and that’s insanely ENTERTAIN and by god Sang Geun Lee’s movie does this and more….. LOVED IT ★★★★½
A Russian space-ship carrying two astronauts onboard encounter problems on their return to Earth – I really love me a scary, tense, clench your buttocks type of movie and Egor Abramenko’s SPUTNIK really done a number on me : the film is set in the 80s, It’s Russian (so has subtitles throughout), it’s creature design really does makes your skin crawl and it’s lead star Oksana Akinshina is truly out of this world, Oksana plays Tatyana Klimova a physician, a bit of a rebel who likes to do it her way and is recruited by a Colonel of the Russian Army who’s concerned about the well being of one of the astronauts after their return to earth : the story’s really well told, twisting and turning right upuntill it’s thrilling finale and speaking from experience the less you know about Sputnik the better, it’s a first-rate scifi horror that’s well shot and very unsettling ★★★★½
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 ★★★
Based on Peter Carey’s novel about the story of Australian Outlaw Ned Kelly and his gang of misfits as they tangle with the local fuzz during the 1870s – TRUE HISTORY OF THE KELLY GANG is Justin Kurzel’s 4th feature film and from start to finish the film is harrowing stuff with it’s violence, harshness of the times depicted in brutal fashion by the Aussie filmmaker who broke onto the scene with his raw yet brilliant debut Snowtown back in 2011 – George MacKay, Russell Crowe and Orlando Schwerdt are terrific in the movie as is Charlie Hunnam and Nicholas Hoult both adding some menace to proceedings, and is there a better Aussie actress than Essie Davis at the moment? a totally committed, ballsey actress that has such a screen presense as she commits to her role 120% – Some of the movie was shot in the Winton Wetlands which I found such a perfect location lending to the movies haunting, barren yet majestic landscape – Kurzel’s movie is certainly not everybody’s cup of tea but it was mine and I would recommend the True History of The Kelly Gang to anyone who loves movies, I just hope it gets the exposure it deserves ★★★★
A mob hitman tells the story of his possible involvement with the hit on Jimmy Hoffa – THE IRISHMAN is Martin Scorsese’s 25th feature film and is now on Netflix (and showing at limited cinema’s throughout the country) – the movie starts in beautiful, typical Scorsese fashion, with the camera creeping effortlessly along some corridors and into a small room where Robert De Niro’s character Frank aka: The Irishman who looks old and life beaten starts to tell his story….. due to the quality of storytelling the film’s 209min run-time flies by, you get so engrossed by it all, I mean this is one of cinema’s greatest directors with a bunch of actors who are LEGENDS of the screen in a gangster movie no less what’s not to piss your movie loving pants over – THE IRISHMAN is a towering movie experience that shows more restraint, is more personal & certainly more tragic than Scorsese’s recent films – the de-aging of it’s cast is sublime and actually mind blowing if you’ve followed these actors since their early days, De Niro, Pacino and Pesci roll back the years giving outstanding performances with the likes of Stephen Graham & Ray Romano joining the big boys league in fine fashion, Graham’s character Tony Pro has some riveting and funny exchanges with Pacino’s Hoffa that are certainly amongst the film’s highlights – Overall The Irishman may not be Scorsese’s best work but a love letter to the genre & a tribute to Four Giants of the screen it most certainly is ★★★★½
BREATH : Simon Baker
Sam Coulter, Ben Spence, Elizabeth Debicki, Simon Baker
I’ve not read Tim Winston’s novel BREATH that was published in 2008 but have just seen it’s film adaption by debut director Simon Baker and it’s an absolute peach, a slow burning coming-of-age surfing movie set in 70s Australia where two friends Pikelet & Loonie discover a thrill seeking adventure amongst the waves – Samson Coulter & Ben Spence give wonderful performances as the two lads, the chemistry between them gives authenticity to their friendship and the fact that both lads are top surfer’s in real life helps enormously – along with the boys surfing & interaction with Simon Baker’s character Sando who’s a retired ex-surfing champ I really enjoyed the scenes between Coulter’s Pikelet & Eva played by the incredibly gifted Elizabeth Debicki these scenes are gorgeous and handled superbly – I must also mention the photography and especially the water sequences in the movie that are simply stunning and quite breathtaking to watch – If you’d like to watch a movie with no green screen, raw acting talent and a lovely story about friendship & adventure then Simon Baker’s Breath is for you – An Aussie Gem from start to finish ★★★★½
Phantom Thread is simply exquisite – its one of them movies that once over and the final credits begin to rise you wish dearly that you could rewind the whole thing and rewatch – as is always the case with a Paul Thomas Anderson picture it’s not just one thing about the movie that makes it a fantastic viewing experience there are plenty – from it’s seductive music that haunts every scene and almost sends you into this hypnotic state, the towering greatness of Daniel Day-Lewis his alluring stature and his chemistry with his co-stars Manville and Krieps sends shivers down your spine as you slowly delve deeper into his character, Lesley Manville’s scene stealing role as Reynolds sister Cyril, stone faced, hard as nails but strikingly loyal to those she loves, those epic camera shots particularly of the spiral stairway of the Woodcocks and the immense beauty of the English seaside, and of course last but not least the innocence, beauty and intelligence that Vicky Krieps gives to Alma in the film is an absolute delight her scenes with Day-Lewis especially that surprise dinner confrontation is perfect in so many ways – THIS is film-making of the highest order ★★★★½
I really ENJOYED Kriv Stenders edge of the seat Crash-style thriller Australia Day – along with Bryan Brown & Shari Sebbens who is bloody brilliant by the way, it’s young cast really does excell & allows the films story to roll at a break neck pace and feel downright authentic – there’s so much running in the movie that at times I felt out of breath watching it all go down – the film brings to light a whole lot of issues such as race and underage prostitution and although there’s nothing new about it’s narrative filmmaker Kriv Stenders handles it well and delivers a movie that balances between a high octain thriller and one that also makes one think of the choices & consequences in one’s life – overall Australia Day is well worth the watch and yet another Aussie Gem ★★★★
from it’s gritty storyline, Takayanagi’s haunting at times beautiful camera work, Bale & Pike’s ability to suck you into Cooper’s narrative and Max Richter’s soul searching score Hostiles is one of the Best Western since Eastwood’s Unforgiven, it’s dark & brutal just like the times, it’s uncomplicated and I can’t remember Christian Bale ever giving a better performance – this is one to watch on the big screen, it’s a visual treat and by the way it’s by no means the Bale & Pike show there’s a whole bunch of stone cold, gritty performances from the tigerish Rory Cochrane as Metz, Jesse Plemons (yep him again) as Kidder & Jonathan Majors as Woodsen – Scott Cooper’s Hostiles is such an awesome ride LOVED IT !! ★★★★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
“Samurai Manji has taken a lot of lives, both innocent and guilty, and now lives life in feudal Japan as a criminal. After being cursed with immortality until he kills enough evil men, Manji meets a young girl who enlists him to be her body-guard. Swearing loyalty, protection and vengeance against the group of sword fighters who slaughtered her family, the unlikely duo set on a remarkable quest of to make right against those who did them wrong.” – HOLY SHIT this looks all kinds of BADASS AWESOME – can you believe that this is Takashi Miike’s 100th movie – of recent times I have been left breathless by this Japanese filmmaker, his own brand of chaos raining down with movies such as Thirteen Assassins and Yakuza Apocalpyse both ballsy & breathtaking in their execution so if his latest Blade of the Immortal comes anywhere close to these two gems then this film guy will be elated – Blade of the Immortal is based on a Japanese manga series by Hiroaki Samura and looks visually stunning – hope you enjoy the trailer….
TOBE HOOPER (1943-2017) – directed one of the truly great films of our time, and in my eyes the scariest, most brutal raw ride into terror that i’ve witnessed – THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE stills gives me chills as it did when I first came across it as kid watching it on video over a friends whilst his parents were at work – I was HORRIFIED it gave me NIGHTMARES but it also started my love affair with all things horror – you will be missed but your legacy of horror such as TEXAS, THE FUN HOUSE, SALEM’S LOT, LIFEFORCE and POLTERGEIST will continue to entertain and inspire a new legion of fans forever…..
“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