Aweful News : the Iconic Movie Star Olivia De Havilland has died aged 104 : in my eye’s they don’t come much better than Livvie, a Golden Age Beauty who graced the screen in over forty feature films, winning two Academy Awards and starring alongside some of the very best in the movie world : One of my favourite quotes of hers was in 1999 where she commented over Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother “I want to follow her example and live many years longer. I consider every birthday a victory” well Livvie you sure did, rest in peace Legend……
I never really knew the man Philip Seymour Hoffman – I only knew his film & stage work, his memorable scene stealing performances in the mid 90’s to his later roles that gave him some critical acclaim with four Oscar Nominations amongst which a gold statue for Best Actor in 2005’s Capote – he was quite simply one of the screen’s finest actors, a towering movie star who lit up any movie with his undoubted presence and stature – it was testament to his talent that every director wanted to film him and every actor wanted to work with him – Philip Seymour Hoffman (1967-2014)
GRUDGE MATCH (2014) – Movie Review ★★★½
“I’ll be a fighter. I was born to be a fighter.”
Grudge Match stars Sylvester Stallone, Robert De Niro, Kim Basinger, Alan Arkin, Kevin Hart & Jon Bernthal – From Peter Segal the director of 50 First Dates & Get Smart comes a sports comedy following a pair of aging & bitter Boxing rivals that are coaxed out of retirement for one final dance around the ring 30 years after their last match ended in controversy and resentment VERDICT I grew up watching these two acting heavy weight’s in the likes of Rocky and Raging Bull and was captivated by their performance in Copland so when it was announced that Stallone and De Niro would return to the ring and reunite for this movie I was quite excited – I wish I could be as enthusiastic about this review as I was taking my seat at the films recent screening – the film wasn’t as good as I had hoped for, the best bits seemed to have been shown in the trailer and although the onscreen sparring of two of my favorite actors was deliciously fun at times, a mediocre Rothman & Kelleher’s script, the annoying Kevin Hart who’s rubbish in pretty much everything I have seen and a pretty lack luster performance from Kim Basinger only helped the picture in becoming a lightweight affair – Grudge Match is not a bad movie but one that I had high hopes for and although I found myself enjoying certain aspects of the film like the movies many homages to Stallone’s Rocky I still left the theater feeling slightly disappointed – overall if your after a break from the glut of serious & dramatic themed movies of late then Peter Segal’s Grudge Match may be what your after – it’s a far cry from being a knockout but I’m pretty sure you will be entertained and even leave the cinema with a little smile – stay after the credits for a couple of superb outtakes….
Whenever I see a cool movie montage I get chills up and down my spine and wish the day was long enough to watch them all one after the other – this 2mins clip of the classic movies of yesteryear is not quite long enough but gives you a small taste of what MGM has given us all over the years, so many memories and so many wonderful pictures – take a look at the video below & whilst your enjoying the clip wish MGM a Happy 90th Birthday!!!
THE WOLF OF WALL STREET (2013/4) – Movie Review ★★★★½
The Wolf of Wall Street stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Matthew McConaughey, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Kyle Chandler, Rob Reiner, Jon Bernthal and Jean Dujardin – From the director of Taxi Driver and Goodfellas Martin Scorsese comes the true life story of stockbroker Jordan Belfort, a man living the high life that’s full of wild parties, wild women and shit loads of money but it’s also a life full of crime, deception and security fraud and a life that is being investigated by the FBI – VERDICT this is the fifth collaboration between DiCaprio and Scorsese and easily their best, if your looking for the Scorsese who brought us 2011’s sentimental, personal look at the magic of cinema in Hugo then you may find this picture a disappointment as The Wolf of Wall Street is a 3 hour orgy of black humor, drug taking and sexual undertaking that’s not for the faint hearted – DiCaprio commands proceedings, his energy and maturity is riverting taking center stage playing Jordan Belfort with a madness and a charm reminiscent of the great Jack Nicholson in his prime, he is that good that I can’t think of another living actor that could have done this role justice – DiCaprio is well supported by the likes of Jonah Hill now a two times Oscar Nominee who is delightfully funny as Belfort’s friend and partner in crime Donnie, Matthew McConaughey playing Belfort’s mentor Mark Hannah is both hilarious & mesmerizing and the emergence of the gorgeous, sexy Margot Robbie who plays Belfort’s wife is a revelation – there are too many fabulous moments in the movie so I won’t name them all but Belfort’s drug trip with Donnie and that drive from the club house to the mansion is genius and the moment when Belfort explains the name change to his employees “Stratton Oakmount” and sets about demonstrating on how to reel in a client is both hilarious & masterfully executed – Scorsese’s picture also includes some beautiful photography, a smart script by Boardwalk Empire’s Terence Winter and some well used musical soundbites that fit their intended scene in an exciting gorgeous fashion – overall Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street is a modern masterpiece that’s full of delicious humor, brilliant editing and full of dazzling, captivating performances – this may not be the best Scorsese picture I have seen but it would certainly make top 5….
SAVING MR. BANKS (2013) – Movie Review ★★★★½
SAVING MR. BANKS stars Tom Hanks, Emma Thompson, Colin Farrell, Ruth Wilson, Paul Giamatti, Jason Schwartzman & Bradley Whitford – Director John Lee Hancock brings us the story of Author P. L. Travers that not only reflects on her childhood spent with a loving, caring but alcoholic father but also looks at the many trials and tribulations filmmaker Walt Disney had in securing the rights to Ms Travers beloved character MARY POPPINS and the process in bringing it all to the screen VERDICT I’ve yet to meet anybody who dislikes Robert Stevenson’s Mary Poppins and watching SAVING MR. BANKS sorted of acted as a behind the scenes glimpse at want went on back in the 60’s of this much loved Disney Classic – Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson are both outstanding as Disney & Travers respectively but it’s easy to overlook two other towering performances from Colin Farrell playing the drunk but loving father Travers Goff who you get to meet in various flashback in Australia in the early 1900’s, it’s a deliverance of such a role that makes me believe Farrell is right up their amongst the elite in his field and then there’s Paul Giamatti who plays the delightful Ralph a limousine driver who strikes an unlikely friendship with Travers whilst driving her around LA – Hancock and his team manage to capture the era of the time perfectly, it’s cinematography is delivered with stunning beauty and them familiar, chirpy tunes from 64’s Mary Poppins are introduced throughout the movie and delivered wonderfully well by the Sherman Brothers who are played so so well by Jason Schwartzman & B.J Novak – my favorite scene in the movie has to be Travers singing and dancing along to “Let’s Go Fly a Kite”, it’s pretty emotional and nailed by the cast – overall SAVING MR. BANKS is a delicious feast of family entertainment that will make you look at Mary Poppins in a different way but love it even more….
OUT OF THE FURNACE (2013) – Movie Review ★★★★
Cast: Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, Woody Harrelson, Zoe Saldana, Forest Whitaker, Willem Dafoe & Sam Shepard – When Rodney (Affleck) disappears and the local law doesn’t do enough to find him it’s left to his older brother Russell (Bale) to takes matters into his own hands to find justice VERDICT Scott Cooper’s directorial debut Crazy Heart was a pretty average affair lit up by a fabulous Jeff Bridges performance but his second feature behind the camera OUT OF THE FURNACE is a powerful, mood driven picture set in and around the Blue Collar Rust Belt containing some Cracker Jack performances, a haunting soundtrack but most of all the brutal reality you feel whilst watching these two brothers who have not only combated war & prison but have had to contend with everyday life, struggling by in the gritty harshness of a small steel town – the acting is one of a master class with Christian Bale giving a sublime display of the wiser older sibling, Casey Affleck plays the younger brother visibly damaged by his time in the war who gets sucked into the underground fight scene to settle his debts, it’s a quite heartbreaking performance and easily his best onscreen display since 2010’s The Killer Inside Me and then we have Woody Harrelson playing to perfection the uncompromising, despicable hillbilly drug lord who’s character is such a far cry from that of Haymitch in The Hunger Games – overall from them opening scenes at the drive-in movie theater, the to the dingy underground fight clubs OUT OF THE FURNACE is an underrated, riveting piece of cinema that should not be missed!!!
Peter O’Toole the BAFTA winning actor of 1962’s Lawrence of Arabia has died aged 81 – in his long career O’Toole received 8 Academy Award nominations and starred in countless movies such as The Night of the Generals, Murphy’s War, Under Milk Wood, Man of La Mancha, Becket, Goodbye Mr Chips and The Lion in Winter – he also starred in 1984’s Supergirl and voiced the character Anton Ego in Pixar’s Ratatouille – I’m sure alongside his friends Richard Harris & Richard Burton the pearly gates of Heaven will be entertained this evening and the first drink will be raised in honor of a stage & movie legend….
known as the “Woman of a Thousand Faces” Eleanor Parker has died aged 91 at her home in Palm Springs, California – although most remember Ms Parker for her superb portrayal of The Baroness in 1965’s The Sound of Music, it was earlier in her career at the start of the 50’s that she really made a name for herself, playing a teenager in Cromwell’s prison drama Caged, starring alongside Kirk Douglas in Detective Story and playing opera singer Marjorie Lawrence in 1955’s Interrupted Melody all three performances delivering Ms Parker an Academy Award Nomination – another couple of personal favorite’s was the John Sturges western Escape from Fort Bravo showing great chemistry alongside William Holden and Otto Preminger’s 1955 Frank Sinatra led movie The Man with the Golden Arm – she was one of the true greats of the silver screen, a fabulous actress with the looks of a Princess – she will be sadly missed….
CARRIE – (2013) – Movie Review ★★★★
Cast – Chloë Grace Moretz, Julianne Moore, Gabriella Wilde, Judy Greer and Ansel Elgort – from the mind of Stephen King and a remake of De Palma’s 1976 horror comes a re-telling of CARRIE, a supernatural tale of a child born by her deeply religious mum who abuses her and shelters her from society, at times locking her in a “prayer closet” beneath the stairs punishing her for any wrong doings & telling her to to pray for forgiveness – as Carrie grows into her teenage years, she discovers she has telekinetic powers and starts to control them – but during an incident at her senior prom Carrie unleashes an almighty fury on her peers and the town that pushed her too far VERDICT having loved Stephen King’s novel and being a huge fan of Sissy Spacek’s Oscar Nominated deliverance of Carrie back in ’76 I was initially dead against yet another dumb Hollywood remake – but having just seen Kimberly Peirce’s horror movie on the big screen, I’m here writing whilst eating humble pie and reflecting on a 100mins of fabulous acting, great camera work and a film that comes awfully close to surpassing it’s original – Julianne Moore is pretty terrifying and gives an unforgettable performance as Carrie’s mum, a religious woman who takes to self harming to rid herself of her demons, she truly is creepy, sadistic and unbalanced and if the Academy Awards rewarded great performances from ALL movie genres and not consistently ignore that of the Horror Film then Ms Moore would certainly be in the running for a gold statue, her turn as Margaret White is in my opinion that good – Kick-Ass’s Chloë Grace Moretz filmed this movie aged 15 and once again displays a talent far beyond her years, stamping her own disturbing print on that of Carrie White – also I must comment on an impressive movie debut by Ansel Elgort he is certainly one for the future – overall Kimberly Peirce’s Carrie is one to savor, a remake that’s truly worth watching and after a five year absence the Boys Don’t Cry director returns to helm one of 2013’s Best Horror pictures that will not only scare the bejesus out of you but also delivers a message to what can happen if one is pushed too far by those evil bullies of society….
THE HUNGER GAMES : CATCHING FIRE – (2013) – Movie Review ★★★★
Cast – Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Jena Malone, Donald Sutherland, Philip Seymour Hoffman & Sam Claflin – Catching Fire starts with Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark preparing for their victory tour throughout the country – President Snow is growing suspicious of Katniss’s true feelings for Peeta and wants her eliminated, blaming her for the recent uprising in the districts and the announcement of Panem’s third Quarter Quell, a special version of the Games held every 25yrs throws Katniss & Peeta back in the arena where survival at all costs is top of the agenda VERDICT – with I Am Legend director Francis Lawrence on-board for the sequel to 2012’s The Hunger Games and a group of actors more familiar with their surroundings and current status amongst Hollywood’s elite, Catching Fire entered rare territory by becoming a movie sequel that’s far superior to it’s original – everything from the film’s sets, the film’s urgency and the exhilarating action were far superior to the first movie – especially the District 12 sets, the poison mist and the Monkey Mutts chase scene were breathtaking – hats off to some of the newcomers to the franchise, my favorites being Jena Malone’s Johanna, Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Heavensbee & Sam Claflin as Finnick Odair all playing pivotal roles and shining when the spotlight was on – overall THE HUNGER GAMES : CATCHING FIRE does fine justice to the world created by Suzanne Collins and surpassed any expectations I had going into the theater – the third and final book is being adapted over two movies the first of which lands late 2014 and if Catching Fire hasn’t whet the appetite for what’s to come then the cannon must have sounded and your dead somewhere ready to be craned off to the Capitol….