A filmmaker seeks solace from her down spiraling career in a remote New York lake house, hoping to find some good old fashioned inspiration : It’s only fitting in the strangest of years that we should have one of the strangest of movies : BLACK BEAR is certainly that, mixed with it’s weird and mind bending plot Lawrence Michael Levine’s film is incredibly frustrating, thought provoking and full of the most unlikeable characters in a movie this year, but somehow Levine pulls it off Albeit with the help of it’s stunning location and engaging cast including Christopher Abbott’s Gabe, Sarah Gadon’s Blair both of whom are annoyingly bodacious in that first segment, to say their relationship is stormy is putting it mildly and last but not least Aubrey Plaza who plays the lead role of Allison, along with Ingrid Goes West and Safety Not Guaranteed this is Aubrey Plaza at her captivating, irresistible best, especially in the movies second half where she finds herself as the lead actress, a bit of a diva in a feature film being directed by Gabe : Black Bear is one of those rare movies that I don’t quite understand what went on, although I’m guessing it went something along the lines of a washed up artist who is struggling to find work decides to take a break in remote Long Lake New York to reinvent herself and hopefully find some inspiration so in the movie Levine shows us what’s actually manifesting in Allison’s mind and how certain things may have played out…. it’s only my interpretation of the goings on in Black Bear but nevertheless the movie certainly scores extra points for the performance level and it’s intriguing narrative, as days later I still find myself thinking of what went on in that lake house and what happened to Allison and that big Black Bear ★★★★
A New York City detective lands a new case that involves multiple murders and a woman who may or may not be the culprit : Filmed with a budget of $19 million and making $110 million at the box office SEA OF LOVE is one of my all time favorite cop thrillers, a character driven piece that’s nerve jangling, oozes suspense, sexy as hell and still remains my best loved picture by the terrific New Yorker Harold Becker : I love the way Pacino struts his stuff, controlling the screen with his uncanny ability to sink into a character and make it his own, with Frank Keller one of New York’s finest Pacino gives us a tour de force of acting, showing us the emotions of a broken marriage, the loss of a mum and the romance & possibly love of Helen played by the incredible actress Ellen Barkin, their scenes together are quite simply electrifying, it’s a remarkable performance by two fine actors who play off each others energy, with their chemistry the beating heart of Becker’s magnificent thriller : there’s also great support by John Goodman’s bubbly & wayward detective, Richard Jenkins is quietly effective as Gruber, Keller’s partner and now dates his ex-wife and Christine Estabrook gives a charming turn as Lonelyheart : check out the film’s photography by the acclaimed Ronnie Taylor, those dimly lit streets and darkened hallways are atmospheric which only add to the nail biting narrative of this terrific, tense thriller and the score by Excalibur’s Trevor Jones is brilliantly typical of it’s era : Harold Becker’s Sea of Love is an excellent thriller, with a unexpected twist and sees one of the screens greatest actors in full flow ★★★★★
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
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?” ★★★★★
Sad news – the Oscar Winning director of one of my favorite movies The Silence of the Lambs Jonathan Demme has died aged 73 – Demme also directed several other superb movies including the epic Something Wild that stars Melanie Griffith & Ray Liotta, Rachel Getting Married, Married to the Mob and Philadelphia but it will always be the brilliant and chilling 1991 classic that the movie world will remember him for – those who worked with him called him one of the most enthusiastic and kind filmmakers in the business, he always had a story to tell and was devilishly smart in bringing that story to the screen, his films changed the course of an actors life, Anthony Hopkins, Jodie Foster, Tom Hanks and Mary Steenburgen all won Oscars and much acclaim for their roles in his movies and all became better actors because of it – through the medium of film Jonathan Demme has left behind a cinematic legacy, a treasure trove of funny, gripping, haunting movies that will continue to entertain and live on forever – he was a passionate filmmaker who loved his craft, so when your next watching one of his movies take a moment to smile and fondly remember this talented New Yorker and the joy he breathed into the cinematic world we all love so much…
“A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti”
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
OK first up I never wanted to see this movie made and not because of this nonsense “all female” thing either, I just love the original films, like many they’re part of my upbringing since the original was released back in the mid 80s I must have seen the film 100 times or more Aykroyd, Ramis and Murray are three of my film heroes so discovering that they were doing another film remake and this time it was my beloved Ghostbusters I was at first mad as hell, I wanted to scream the social media house down, I guess I never wanted a movie more than this one to fail miserably but luckily for me like most things I calmed down and accepted that even without my blessing this reboot was going to happen one way or the other – Paul Feig happens to be one of my favourite modern comedy directors, films such as Bridesmaids, The Heat and Spy have all made me cry with laughter so taking the mantle for this remake was a big thing for him and I just prayed, kept my fingers crossed that he was up to the task…..
OK so now I have seen Ghostbusters the 2016 version and I want to share my views with you film fans out there – firstly it has to be said Feig goes above and beyond in respecting the original 1984 classic, he uses the old theme tune, gives cameo’s to the old cast and even dedicates the movie to Harold Ramis at the end credits (a nice touch I thought) – his young cast comprising of Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones and Chris Hemsworth are all fabulous, McKinnon and Jones for me steal the show but in general Feig has managed to cast well all actors adding something to this reboot, Hemsworth is at times hilarious playing the dopey good looking secretary for the team, he actually wears glasses without the glass and keeps tripping over himself & that dancing at the end credits is worth staying around for – I love also the fact that the legend that is Andy Garcia plays the New York Mayor such a great actor and fabulous to see him back on the big screen – the films opening at the haunted mansion was a riot, Kristen Wigg’s character getting slimed is worth the ticket value in itself and them scenes involving Jone’s character in the subway and also the possessed dummy are so much fun, McCarthy being possessed and getting slapped by Jones was hilarious and then of course you have McKinnon just oozing style playing the oddball engineer who creates the teams Ghost busting weapons & looks equally at ease firing them bad boys – Overall: put aside (if you have any) your disagreement for this movie and go and have some fun – Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters is an amusing, entertaining picture, the cast rock & I promise you this movie will bring a smile to your face, my only small criticism is that the last 15minutes could have been handled better, a little OTT but that’s me being picky – Ghostbusters is a real blast !! ★★★½
From artist Jonathan Burton comes 2 delicious posters commemorating the 1933 monster movie KING KONG – my favourite is the the one of the left “Jungle” depicting Kong in his own habitat, it glorifies Kong’s stature and the fear he must of held over those who witnessed him – the “City” is also fantastic, Burton’s use of black & white captures the New York skyline and the overall feel of the 1933 classic, it’s detail is sublime, both are hugely enjoyable prints from a truly wonderful artist!
My latest venture to the cinema was to watch John Crowley’s immigrant drama BROOKLYN based on the novel by Colm Tóibín and starring a young lady that in my opinion is the Best Young Actress of her generation Saoirse Ronan
“Brooklyn tells the story of Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan), a young Irish immigrant who leaves her home town, to live in 1950s Brooklyn. After the initial shackles of homesickness Eilis begins to find her feet, she starts a new job, an exciting education and falls into a romance with a boy from the city. But soon, her new life is disrupted by her past, and Eilis must choose between the two countries and the lives that exist within”
It’s fair to say my draw to watching Brooklyn on the big screen was Saoirse Ronan, I’d not read Tóibín‘s book and the director Crowley’s previous movies have not caught my imagination and to be truly honest I thought them average at best. But it was an actress I have been following since 2007’s Atonement, the American born but raised in Ireland Saoirse Ronan that drew to me to watching Brooklyn at the cinema, and boy she’d didn’t disappoint either – Ronan doesn’t have to say much to convey the pain or joy she is feeling during the movie, her emotions can be found in her eyes & face, the power she wields with her expressions tells you more than a thousand words – but in fairness Brooklyn has some other really good performances, Emory Cohen who plays the young dreamy Italian Tony is fabulous, he’s a delightful young actor who’s mannerism’s & appearance suck you in allowing you to believe in the romance between himself and Ronan’s Eilis, their chemistry is gorgeous to watch – also deserving of a mention is the magnificent Julie Walters who plays Mrs. Kehoe the landlady in Brooklyn who’s house Eilis stays in, although Walter’s screen time is limited her character gives necessary warmth & humor to the overall film.
Overall: At its finale Brooklyn leaves you feeling elated, its a film you want to re-watch and one you wish to tell all & sundry about, it’s a simple story of life, family & finding ones home and although it’s early in his career I feel this could be John Crowley’s masterpiece – due it’s fabulous screenplay by Nick Hornby the movie is full of every emotion, a lump in my throat during one scene, laughing at Julia Walters in the next, the film really does give you this emotional roller coaster ride as you join Eilis Lacey on her journey of self discovery – I know some people are put off by watching this style of movie at the cinema but trust me Yves Bélanger’s gorgeous photography and an acting masterclass by Saoirse Ronan are reason enough to visit Brooklyn on the big screen – it’s memorable, well acted & well directed by Crowley give it a go, you won’t be disappointed ★★★★½
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) – Movie Review ★★★★
Director: Anthony & Joe Russo – Cast: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L Jackson, Anthony Mackie, Cobie Smulders, Sebastian Stan, Emily VanCamp, Robert Redford, Frank Grillo & Jenny Agutter – Synopsis: This story takes place 2 years after the events in New York with The Avengers – Steve Rogers aka: Captain America (Chris Evans) is now living in Washington D.C. attempting to adjust to the modern world and his new surroundings. But that new and quiet life is about to turn upside down when Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) gets attacked by a group of Hydra operatives and a deadly assassin known as The Winter Soldier starts targeting S.H.I.E.L.D. members – entangled in a web of corruption S.H.I.E.L.D. has now become compromised and it’s left to Captain America, his new friend The Falcon and fellow Avenger The Black Widow to uncover the truth, track down this new enemy and eliminate the threat – Verdict: Recently watched The Winter Soldier as part of a 3D Captain America marathon that included Joe Johnson’s 2011 original and Whedon’s Avengers Assemble and although the film fell short of it’s original, the Russo brothers have delivered an exciting, action & effects driven big screen event that fits snugly within the layers of the Marvel Universe and the continuing story of Steve Rogers and S.H.I.E.L.D. – the fight scenes are well orchestrated, especially the ones that feature Scarlett Johansson‘s Black Widow and Chris Evan’s Cap who uses his shield to great effect – my favorite scene in the movie (there’s quite a few) was possibly the Nick Fury assassination attempt with rogue cops surrounding his car and raining holy hell down with all manner of weaponry – it made for delicious big screen viewing and like most Superhero movies The Winter Soldier is a visual feast of quickly paced action, lots of explosions and car chases all that need to be seen on the biggest screen possible – we also get a small taster of new characters that I am sure we will be seeing more of in the future, the likes of Emily VanCamp‘s Agent 13 and Frank Grillo’s Crossbones who were both excellent if not slightly underused – Samuel L Jackson’s Nick Fury had more screen time which in my opinion only enhances the movie and Anthony Mackie a newbie to the Marvel Universe did a fine job spreading his wings playing The Falcon – Robert Redford’s character was my only negative, it was not meaty or fleshed out enough and was a missed opportunity – overall: the movie gets the big thumbs up here – it’s an exciting action packed superhero outing that lays the foundations for what’s to follow – roll on the next chapter – Whedon’s Avengers: Age of Ultron that lands next summer….
Akiva Goldsman’s WINTER’S TALE has 3 new movie banners – the film stars Russell Crowe, Colin Farrell, Jennifer Connelly, Jessica Brown Findlay, Matt Bomer & William Hurt