I was lucky to grow up in a time when Brisbane born GEORGE MILLER ruled the Post Apocalyptic screen with his brutal yet devilishly fun Mad Max franchise, these films are not only are amongst my favorite and most watched action movies of all time (see what remains of my VHS originals) but also they gave us the great Mel Gibson, this rugged, leather-clad hero that’s gone on to become one film’s finest actors and filmmaker in his own right (so thank you George) : but along with these full throttle action movies George Miller also gave us the Nick Nolte cracker Lorenzo’s Oil, the wickedly dark and funny The Witches of Eastwick, my favorite slice of The Twilight Zone Movie Nightmare at 20,000 feet and that delightfully cute Oscar Winning animated movie Happy Feet : George is currently working on Three Thousand Years of Longing with Idris Elba and Tilda Swinton and then hopefully we should see the great man back in familiar territory with the prequel to Fury Road titled Furiosa and starring Chris Hemsworth and the incredible Anya Taylor-Joy in the title role
A drifter is tricked into a taking a job at the now condemned Willy’s Wonderland. The mundane tasks suddenly become a fight for survival, can the Janitor make it out alive? : ANYONE and I mean ANYONE who does not like the Kevin Lewis picture WILLY’S WONDERLAND needs to take a good look at themselves, maybe start by rewatching the movie and then indulge a little and start putting tongue in cheek in your daily Cereal : I mean what’s not to like when watching the rather awesome NICOLAS CAGE dancing whilst playing a pinball f##king game and then beating the holy shit out of a bunch of totally insane animatronic teddy bears including Ozzie Ostrich and Gus Gorilla in a rather crazed family play setting? : and as we’ve seen before Cage is not only a terrific actor but one cool dude and his character in Willy’s Wonderland who’s known as the Janitor does not utter a single word, instead he just guzzles these canned drinks to a timer set on his watch, cleans out the trash and switches his tees everytime he goes on a killing spree : the soundtrack by Émoi is pretty darn great, the supporting cast including Emily Tosta are superb and the film’s untamed, non-stop action is creative & plentiful : so if your looking for Cameron Poe Cage, Castor Troy Cage or even Benjamin Franklin Gates Cage then I’m sorry to tell you all three are either in Hibernation or Dead so you’re going to be very disappointed this is Bat Shit Crazy Cage who just loves nothing more than serving up some kick ass justice in small town who knows where : an instant cult classic with an 88min runtime that just flies by…. please please sanction a sequel…. I WANT MORE ★★★★½
Bill O’Neal infiltrates the Black Panther Party as an informant for FBI Agent Mitchell and J. Edgar Hoover : I didn’t know much about the Hampton story going in so Shaka King’s Judas and the Black Messiah was as much of a history lesson as it was a fine slice of character driven, tense & moving story telling that is brilliant from it’s start to it’s unsavoury finale : along with it’s score, Chicago location and a rather brief yet compelling performance by Martin Sheen as Hoover, I’m still gushing over the intensity level that Daniel Kaluuya and Lakeith Stanfield brought to their respective roles, both actors are captivating on screen and how about the wonderful Dominique Fishback as Hampton’s girlfriend WOW what a strong & sensitive part she plays in giving heart to this true story set in the late 60s where there’s no real winner and the outcome was inevitable : I don’t know how much of King’s story is how it went down but the gunfight at the chapter office with O’Neal sneaking away, the scene in the car with O’Neal being interrogated by two BPP members suspicious of his antics and that sureal, heart stopping moment when Hampton and his Panthers meet with the Crowns are amongst the many highlights of this tremendous biopic : a MUST watch ★★★★
A teenager uses her wits & survival skills to fight for her life, and help those around her against a group of terrorists : Don’t you just love it when you discover a new film that you haven’t seen any promotional material for, not even a poster or trailer? Kyle Rankin’s RUN HIDE FIGHT really got under my skin, from it’s creepy protagonist and alarming relativity to the film’s dark and twisted narrative, realising that this could happen to you or your loved ones really gave this Die Hard-esque action movie one helluva kick : I love the way Rankin sets the tone early with Isabel May’s Zoe going all Nic Cage on a deer whilst out on a hunt with her dad played by Thomas Jane, the film’s backstory is given an early gut punch too as we get to discover more about Zoe’s state of mind and those touching scenes that involve Radha Mitchell who plays Zoe’s mum are quite sublime : loved the small roles from some of my favorite actors of yester-year including Barbara Crampton who plays Mrs Crawford and Treat Williams turn as the Sheriff, Rankin’s story is tight and ramped with tension and hats off to debutant Olly Sholotan who’s superb in an eye catching turn as Zoe’s bestie Lewis : overall Run Hide Fight is a gritty, disturbing and violent action movie that tackles the ugly reality of domestic terrorism in an ever so slighlty unrealistic movie sort of way : EXCELLENT ★★★★
Fancy swapping bodies with an infamous serial killer? me neither… well that’s what happens to Millie and she now has 24 hours before that change becomes permanent : having really enjoyed both Happy Death Day movies and the superb Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse I was excited to see what director Christopher Landon had in store for us with his latest horror comedy FREAKY that stars Vince Vaughn & Kathryn Newton : the mixture of comedy, smartly written dialogue and GORY horror is a fine line which Landon tip toes outrageously along : watching terrified as Vince Vaughn’s Butcher slices and dices his way through those opening ten minutes with the brutality of a Wes Craven movie whilst mouthing HOLY SHIT and then turning the terror into a smile and full on belly laugh as the Butcher is transformed into a teenage girl’s body thanks to the ancient mystical dagger is GENIUS : I can’t honestly decide which one I prefered more, Vince Vaughan’s Butcher running around the town of Blissfield screaming & acting like a girl or Kathryn Newton’s Millie transformed into the Butcher and taking out some sweet vengeance on the bully’s at her school, those scenes involving the smarmy teacher and the table saw and Ryler’s cryo-tank moment is utterly brilliant : Freaky is close to Landon’s best work, yes it’s full of your typical cliches, but overall the film’s inventive, outrageous and devilishly good FUN : a body swap slasher for the ages, a cult classic that I can’t wait to rewatch and recommend to friends ★★★★
A young woman wants to propose to her girlfriend whilst visiting her family’s home this festive holiday discover that her partner hasn’t yet come out to her parents : There’s something warm and snuggly about this time of year when the annual Christmas tree burns brightly, the decorations go up and the collection of Festive Movies are dusted off, ones that make you believe in all things good and Santa Claus once more : will HAPPIEST SEASON join those festive few, those films that make your heart swell, your eye’s water and bring a big smile to your face? : there’s so many touching and funny moments in Clea DuVall’s first movie behind the camera that I left at the end credits with a beaming smile and the hope of a sequel a year down the line : the chemistry between the onscreen couple of Abby and Harper played respectively by Kristen Stewart & Mackenzie Davis is believable and utterly adorable, they made me smile from the get go, gripping me from that opening rooftop scene : I loved it’s refreshingly original soundtrack, the in-house jokes one featuring a Josh Hartnett photo that made me chuckle and it’s familiar yet relevant story that may not be packed with your typical Christmas jingle but is heartfelt and funny nevertheless : it’s cast is perfection from Garber & Steenburgen’s terrific parents, Alison Brie’s competitive sister that ice skating scene is hilarious, Mary Holland’s fun loving Jane, Daniel Levy’s scene stealing best friend…. and I know you were all thinking the same as me awww I hope Abby falls for Riley played by the delightful Aubrey Plaza there scenes together in the bar were electric : Clea DuVall’s Happiest Season is a charming festive romp, with a delightful message of coming out, love and friendship at it’s fore : a most enjoyable festive cracker that should not be missed and watched several times this Christmas ★★★★
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
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