It’s always tough when listing any Top Movie List but as this will become a steady feature on the site I have decided to start Our Top Four with the enormous talent that is Grace Patricia Kelly : I started my obsession & collecting movies during the early 80s, films from all era’s & genre’s, facinated in general by anything and everything movie orientated and I remember watching Dial M for Murder one afternoon whilst home from school and being mesmerised by this screen goddess, this lady that oozed sex appeal yet had this commanding persona one that filled the screen with a kind of movie magic, I guess Grace Kelly became my first movie love and what a magnificent yet short career this American Sweetheart gave us : I hope you enjoy my ramblings….
Born on the 12th November 1929 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania GRACE KELLY not only had the beauty & elegance of a Hollywood Leading Lady but also had the acting chops of a high quality veteran working & becoming goods friends with the likes of Alfred Hitchcock on three occassions, Rear Window, Dial M for Murder and To Catch a Thief and also winning the Academy Award for Best Actress in the wonderful George Seaton picture The Country Girl, this was viewed as a major shock, many thought Judy Garland would win that year for her turn in A Star is Born : in her short Hollywood career Grace would star with Gary Cooper in the acclaimed western High Noon, William Holden in The Bridges of Toko-Ri and Clark Gable in Mogambo : in 1956 Grace Kelly married Prince Rainier ending her love affair with the screen until her death in 1982
One of my favorite Grace Kelly quotes : Mr. Hitchcock taught me everything about cinema. It was thanks to him that I understood that murder scenes should be shot like love scenes and love scenes like murder scenes
Sean Connery was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1930 and died in The Bahamas this morning in 2020 : the film world has lost a legend, a hero to many including myself and an actor that spanned a 60 year career….. he escaped from Alcatraz, was a British Secret Agent, an Irish-American cop, a Soviet Submarine Captain, an Immortal Swordsman, was King Arthur, Robin Hood and Indiana’s dad….. may you rest in peace Big Tam…..
Number 14 of My Top 31 Horror Movies : After moving into an apartment with her husband, Rosemary begins to hear and dream strange things, and she starts to suspect her perculiar neighbors are up to no good : I’ve watched Rosemary’s Baby dozens of times down the years and I’m still as disturbed by it’s general foreboding as I was when I first watched it back in the late 80’s, with it’s narrative ranging from pregnancy, satanism to demonic rape it’s a movie that slowly and subtly builds, chipping away at your nerve ends until it’s shocking finale : there are times during the movie when William Fraker’s photography makes me feel slightly claustrophobic especially the early scenes in the lift and apartment block, the close-up scenes of the sensational Mia Farrow and work behind the camera throughout really adds to it’s feeling of nauseating unease : I love the suspense and sheer drama of the phone box scene (which I believe was done in one take) and the discovery at the film’s finale but there’s no question when Rosemary passes out after eating Minnie’s chocolate mousse only to wake find scratches on her body with her husband admitting to having sex with her whilst she was unconcious to be the most terrifying, pulse racing scene of all : so if your expecting a blood curdling, jump a minute horror film then think again, Rosemary’s Baby is a mess with your head, psychological masterpiece that will lure you in and unsettle even the most hardened of minds, it’s been 52yrs since it’s release and it still kick’s like a newborn ★★★★★
Number 16 of My Top 31 Horror Movies : A group of people barricade themselves in an old farmhouse to remain safe from a bloodthirsty, flesh-eating breed of monster who are ravaging the United States. : “They’re coming to get you, Barbra!…” : There’s good zombie films and then there’s George A Romero’s 1968 ghoulfest NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD : crafted in black & white with a runtime of 96mins this slice of horror is pure suspense, alongside a towering performance full of energy & style by New Yorker Duane Jones & scares that would make most of today’s horror films blush Night of the Living Dead is high calibre filmmaking, by a director at his most raw & potent best : I recently rewatched the restored Criterion edition and was reminded (like I am every year) on how creepy the movie holds up, from it’s unique appearance, how fiendishly evil the undead look to the films unsettling graveyard and old farmhouse shot’s with it’s black-and-white filming only adding extra spice to the unnerving viewing experience : Judith O’Dea’s Barbra is terrific, the way she shows us her character’s shock after loosing her brother in the cemetary attack and the terror she’s overcome with is quite chilling : I love the scene in the movie which sees Harry coming up from the basement and arguing with Ben on why they should all be barricaded in down below, Hardman & Jones have the floor mostly to themselves and it’s all quite riverting, Tom & Judy’s ill fated trip to collect some gas from the barn is also one my movie highlights, from it’s chaotic build up, big explosion to the aftermath of Harry locking Ben out of the house to be breathtaking : since it’s release Night of the Living Dead has spawned a zombie franchise and countless other immitations but for me Romero’s original beats all others hands down and is still a spine-chilling masterpiece ★★★★★
Number 23 of My Top 31 Horror Movies : Two American friends on a walking tour of Britain are attacked by a werewolf that none of the locals will admit exists : It’s impossible to quantify how much an effect AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON had on me whilst growing up, in love with the genre and especially the early days of Universal’s Horror Movies, such as The Wolf Man from the early 40s : From that opening pub scene when everybody just stops and stares at the two boys like their from another world, the pentagram hanging on the wall of the pub, Jenny Agutter’s Nurse Price (like many I crushed hard and still do) to Rick Baker’s ground breaking special effects An American Werewolf in London is quite simply Horror Perfection : my favorite scene in the movie (apart from when David changes of course) is the London Underground chase scene, it still freaks me out & scares me good & proper, and I do love the moments in the seedy adult cinema where Jack who’s slowly decaying introduces David his victims from the night before…. so good : with a budget of $6 Million An American Werewolf in London Won the Oscar for Best Makeup and became a box office success and has since become a Cult Classic, the film’s script from Landis is outstanding, so funny & cleverly dark at times, the film’s score including three tracks cut perfectly to their respectives scenes are bloody brilliant, these include Van Morrison’s Moondance, Bobby Vinton’s version of Blue Moon and Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Bad Moon Rising : I always revisit this movie around Halloween and each & every time I applaud, scream and laugh my way through this horror gem from director John Landis ★★★★★
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
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?” ★★★★★
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
Here’s 3 great Behind the Scene shots from 1968’s Once Upon a Time in the West – Directed by Sergio Leone and stars : Henry Fonda, Claudia Cardinale, Charles Bronson, Jason Robards & Woody Strode : A mysterious stranger with a harmonica teams up with a notorious gunslinger to protect a beautiful widow from a ruthless assassin working for the railroad in the old west : The late great Ennio Morricone composed the musical score and it’s one his finest in my opinion.
A teenager’s weekend at home with her dad takes a turn for the worse when a group of escaped convicts decide to interupt their plans – From the fab duo of Milott & Murnion who in 2014 gave us the insanely good Cooties comes their new horror picture BECKY a home invasion movie that will no doubt upset someone, somewhere at somepoint – There is no question that this film is the darkest of the the duo’s three movies to date, you get a nasty performance by Kevin James who plays a neo-nazi convict, some blood thirsty Home Alone style action scenes that’s not for the faint hearted, a real eye-catching moment during the film’s second half and the star of the show Lulu Wilson who is quite simply wonderful playing Becky this teenage girl who’s loss of her mother has hardened her mentally and given her this moody chip on her shoulder that serves her well in trying to survive – My only criticism is that the film runtime could have been slightly longer to allow a bit more characterization which would have helped explain Becky’s relationship or lack of with her father Jeff played by Joel Mchale BUT nevertheless the film is a credit to Milott & Murnion a real heart-stopper, a violent exciting horror thriller that I will no doubt revisit again and again ★★★★
After serving time in prison a 47-year old Al Capone starts suffering from dementia and is haunted by his violent past – Blurring his past with the present comes a facinating character study into one of the most evil gangsters of all time – Josh Trank’s CAPONE is an absorbing watch, with flashes of violence & brilliance that shows once again the might of Tom Hardy and the formidable work of Linda Cardellini – along with the film’s injection of black humor such as Capone’s fishing meltdown alongside Matt Dillon and the brilliant Tommy Gun scene you also get to feel quite sad for this monster as you watch his final moments decend into lunacy, incontinence and utter mayhem – My only criticism is that CAPONE felt 30mins too short, Trank could have delved further into Capone’s fascinating backstory, more carnage and maybe let the viewer discover a little more about his wife and best friend Mae Coughlin (maybe a prequel Josh?) but that being said the film is outstanding, well written and almost Kubrick in style and I for one can’t wait to revisit Capone many more times ★★★★½
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
Cop Land, 3:10 to Yuma, The Wolverine, Logan and now FORD v FERRARI James Mangold’s thrill ride, a 7,000 RPM adrenaline fueled, pulsating ENERGY packed racing movie that sees Matt Damon deliver a career best, Christian Bale in infectious form, Caitriona Balfe delivering one of the film’s best moments and the race scenes WOW their pure dynamite – for me 2019 is the best year of the decade for cinematic treasures and this film continues the trend in leaving me speechless and rather emotional as I left my seat at the big screen – obviously the Le Mans track has changed through the years since the 60s so how on earth did James Mangold and his team recreate the movies focal point? it’s just mind boggling, the camera work by the Greek cinematographer Phedon Papamichael is sublime, his work in creating that claustrophobic yet thrilling car racing scenes is pure brilliance but for me the main reason this movie succeeds is it’s cast who are simply magnetic – what a movie and a ride you don’t wana miss on the big screen ★★★★★
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
ROSY : Jess Manafort
Stacy Martin, Nat Wolff, Johnny Knoxville & Tony Shaloub
Interestingly ROSY came totally out of the blue having not seen a poster or watched a trailer and sometimes these little things make a movie more fun and certainly more interesting (not knowing what is coming) – So without spoiling things Jess Manafort’s directorial debut is pretty bizzare yet it somehow manages to captivate, from it’s haunting score that wouldn’t seem out of place in a Woody Allen pic to it’s slow burning narative and wonderful performances from it’s cast – Nat Wolff gives a career besty playing Doug a guy with a few bolts loose who lives on his own but he has a plan and this plan involves Rosy an aspiring young actress played by the wonderful Stacy Martin who gives a GIGANTIC performance that’s sexy, funny and downright crazy – Rosy’s coming together with Doug is alarming, yet by the end of the film you start to think that there’s some chemistry between them (well I did anyhow), everything about the films premise is not quite right but somehow it works and it’s filmmaker Jess Manafort deserves the plaudits for not only her direction but for an exciting, original script – absolutley superb ★★★★