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Kirk Douglas was born on the 9th December 1916 in New York, he may no longer be with us but his work has brought so much joy to my screen over the years and will continue to do so : to name four of his best movies is near impossible as like most great actors he has numerous films to choose from dependent on the mood you find yourself in…. for example if your looking for a bit of fun the Douglas way then look no further than Tough Guys a 1986 gem that sees two gangsters released from prison into a world that has vastly changed since they were put away, Burt Lancaster and Eli Wallach share the screen in this sweet, emotional and hilarious turn by the maestro, or if your looking for something more sombre, a bit more dramatic then take a peek at the 1951 Billy Wilder movie Ace in the Hole, one of his very best and a good old fashioned nail biter, that sees Chuck Tatum a reporter who slows down a rescue attempt of a man trapped in a cave so his career can flourish, it’s one of my favorites and Kirk is dynamite but if you want a night in and your after excitement, gun fights and the old west then jump onboard The War Wagon that sees Kirk team up with John Wayne in one of my favorite guilty pleasure westerns directed by Burt Kennedy : so if over the next few weeks you find yourself looking for some movie inspiration, you fancy a revisit or maybe you’ve never seen the likes of Lust for Life, The Vikings or The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral well take it from me there’s a Kirk Douglas movie for each & every mood, let that chin dimple, enormous heart and big smile fill your screen, you’ll thank me later…..
One of my favorite Kirk Douglas quotes : I was not a tough guy. I just acted like one.
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
Armed with only one word, Tenet, a secret agent known as The Protagonist is sent on a mission to stop the end of the world : Having just revisited the Christopher Nolan back catalogue I was intrigued to catch TENET in the cinema and on IMAX as the film itself was shot by Hoyte van Hoytema, the DP on this movie using both 70 mm film and IMAX : As an overall film experience Tenet is thrilling from start to finish, from it’s breathtaking european locations (you’d never guess that Nolan is a big fan of 007) and heart pounding score from the Black Panther maestro Ludwig Goransson to it’s cast including the likes of John David Washington, Robert Patterson & Elizabeth Debicki who are all mightly impressive, especially Patterson who in my opinion is the star of the movie : my favourite moments include the astonishing car chase, the opera scene which is chaotic but brilliantly shot and all the screen time Elizabeth Debicki & Kenneth Brannagh share, with Brannagh playing a Russian villain with a complex insanity that terrifies Debicki and in turn motors the heart of Nolan’s story : there were reports on my social media timeline that the sound/dialogue was poor, but in my experience it was the opposite, totally clear and incredible allround : IMAX showcases Nolan’s latest in a dazzling way, an intriguing mind melt with spectacular action blended with an exciting, facinating narrative, however I do feel that the film could have been 20mins longer, it seems some of the early exchanges could have benefited with it’s story being fleshed out a bit more : that being said If your a fan of Christopher Nolan’s movies then TENET is a must on the big screen, take your mask and enjoy the experience it’s truly worth it ★★★★
A famous writer finds inspiration for her next piece of work after she and her husband take in a young couple – Josephine Decker’s latest movie SHIRLEY is a riverting slice of hazy dreamlike filmmaking that I will need to rewatch several times as it’s that bloody good – the film’s atmospheric sound, it’s gorgeous closeups and facinating story by Susan Merrell makes this picture top notch viewing – the scenes between Michael Stuhlbarg & Elisabeth Moss are captivating & seem quite effortless but I have to say the star of SHIRLEY is Odessa Young who’s quite brilliant as Rose, those moments shared with Moss and Lerman set the tone of the story and it’s easily her best performance to date ★★★★
In the future and as a final response to crime the United States government plan to broadcast a signal making it impossible for anyone to knowingly commit unlawful acts – Oliver Megaton’s THE LAST DAYS OF AMERICAN CRIME is one cool, relevant and fucked up action movie led from the front by “ice for veins” Edgar Ramirez, “looney tune & totally unhinged” Michael Pitt and the “wired for sound kickass” Anna Brewster – at times the story is a little messy, but if your a fan of this French filmmaker and his stylized action movies then boy this one’s for you, it’s quite relentless, bonkers at times and it sure is an almighty fun way to spend 2hrs – leave your brain in isolation and enjoy the ride ★★★★
Since 2000’s Charlies Angels filmmaker McG has made a career of directing a pretty mixed bag of average and films bordering on quality but has never taken his movie to a place bordering greatness – take the Kevin Costner actioner 3 Days to Kill and 2006’s football movie We are Marshall both solid likeable movies that I enjoyed immensely – but with McG the Jekyll & Hyde of filmmakers there’s always the bad and in my opinion one of his worst movies This Means War and the dreadfully average Terminator Salvation are two examples of McG’s Hyde coming out to play – so going into 2017’s The Babysitter I was really unsure which McG was gona turn up?
Stars Samara Weaving, Judah Lewis, Robbie Amell, Hana Mae Lee and Bella Thorne – Storyline When Cole (Judah Lewis) stays up past his bedtime, he discovers that his hot babysitter Bee (Samara Weaving) is involved in something that will change his life forever.
FINALLY IT’S HERE a movie that McG has knocked out of the park, a picture for all (well maybe not all) to really SAVOUR – The Babysitter is an absolute stonking blast from start to finish and I can now see why Brian Duffield’s script was on the Black List for the Best unproduced Hollywood script it truly is a cracking cocktail of black humor, blood soaked horror and a slasher-esque Home Alone style invasion movie that just doesn’t stop entertaining – it’s got a wickid young cast, some wild frantic chase scenes, a steamy kiss to beat all steamy kisses and some sharp witty dialogue, it’s superbly shot and has an awesome soundtrack DO YOURSELF a favour and check THE BABYSITTER out on Netflix – it’s a real killer !! ★★★★
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
on the Movie Screen TOM CRUISE has few equals, the man is a bonefied action star, a charasmastic movie magnet, a film icon and in my eyes one of the Greatest Movie Stars that’s ever lived – ok so now I have that off my chest what did I make of his second movie with filmaker Doug Liman AMERICAN MADE is a film based around a true story of pilot come drug runner Barry Seal – films that fly under the radar & deliver the goods are few and far between yet American Made succeeds big time – from the time I sat in my seat in the jam packed screening to it’s final credits time flew – there’s a darkness, a terrifying story being told yet you can’t help but smile, laugh and at time clap your way through proceedings, the pace is electric, the locations pleasing on the eye and attention to detail superb – it seems Liman and Cruise are a match made in movie heaven and with this being there second picture together only whets the lips for a third ★★★★
In 1982 Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner was one of my first Science Fiction crushes, it’s still in My Top 20 movies of all time so when I heard a sequel was coming, I was sceptical but then something changed….. it was announced that Canadian filmmaker Denis VILLENEUVE was set to direct, the talent behind some of my favorite movies in recent years Prisoners, Enemy, Sicario and Arrival and I instantly knew that this film when it arrived would be worthy of the name Blade Runner – and as I’m sat here typing my thoughts, still giddy with the excitment felt viewing the movie for the second time with a little Hans Zimmer playing in the background I’m actually struggling to find the words on how bloody great Blade Runner 2049 actually is – it’s a picture that’s more than a homage laid sci-fi sequel, this is filmmaking on a grand scale, Deakins use of color and light is quite overwhelming, a small but fine example of this is them early scenes between K and Morton, the way the scene is lit, it’s mood that’s transformed to the screen adds greatly to this tense, titanic and very relevant encounter – along with the movies obvious masterclass in sound & imagery Blade Runner 2049 is a film that carries a wicked cast, with 4 amazing ladies hugging the limelight and making this sequel extra special – Ana de Armas is eye catching as hologram Joi, so much so you start to believe she’s actually real – Mackenzie Davis is simply WOW as street girl Mariette with her homage strewn outfit and amazing hairstyle – and then there’s Lt. Joshi a tough ass cop played by the remakable Robin Wright who’s perfectly cast and last but not least Dutch actress Sylvia Hoeks who is MESMERISING as Niander Wallace’s creation Luv, she’s quite the badass and those scenes with K near the end of the movie are so unbelievable I left half my finger nails in the arm of the chair – Overall Blade Runner 2049 is not only the best movie sequel since Cameron’s Aliens it’s also a thought provoking slice of original storytelling that sucks you in, captivates and excites like no other movie has this year ★★★★½
Trying to pick 15 Movies that have stood out, excited & impressed the hell out of me in 2015 has been a difficult task and one that I started compiling over two weeks back – when making a Best of List it’s important to view the movie multiple times and for me personally I never choose any movie on pure sentiment, take the Star Wars movie for example, I’m a huge geek when it comes to them movies but it would be unfair of me to name it as one of my favorite movies purely on past glories, the movie has to be better than that and deserve a place by merit – everybody has their own personal favorites, whether it be at home or at the cinema movies are there to be enjoyed – don’t take my Top 15 as gospel and certainly don’t let friends or film critics decide what you watch, the beauty is we are all movie critics and we all have our own opinions – so if you’ve not seen some of these movies, give them a try and then compile your own list of Your Favorite Movies of 2015….
Being a film geek and a huge fan of the STAR WARS franchise I could not wait to reach for my light sabre and find my local IMAX and immerse myself into that world once more – my first experience of Han Solo, Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia was back in the early 80’s, I was too young for New Hope & Empire but watched them both on Video (many times) before eventually Jedi arrived, I was only a kid in ’83, my film education just beginning and watching these characters the maestro George Lucas had created on the big screen for the very first time was something I will always treasure, and like most scfi fans around my age I have watched the original trilogy and its 3 prequels many many times – so after a long wait J.J Abrams Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens had arrived, a midnight screening, the packed cinema roared as the infamous opening credits began to rise…..
Having now had a few days to think about the movie, I have come up with some positive & negative feed back, this is my own personal views so please take it all with a pinch of salt – I will get the negatives out of the way early (and these views don’t necessarily mean I didn’t enjoy the movie, quite the opposite) firstly the writing by Toy Story 3’s Michael Arndt is too predictable, the film itself copying many of the same trait’s as it’s predecessors almost retelling Lucas’s masterpiece A New Hope – Snoke the master & his apprentice Kylo Ren who is too much like Vader, even dresses in black with a mask but is weaker and less imposing, Rey the film’s lead is a young, untrained yet powerful in the force girl who leaves her planet Jakku to fight with the resistance yep I know all very similar to the path Luke Skywalker took in the original trilogy, The First Order is basically a new and updated Empire, they even have a new droid BB8 who’s just like R2D2 excepts it’s shape and it maneuvers slightly different and there are also a couple of big spoilers that I will not divulge here but also remind one of the original movies – secondly the casting of Adam Driver as Kylo Ren is one of the worst in the whole of the Star Wars franchise, he just does not look the part and when he removes his helmet (mystery gone !! – and another big mistake by the writers) he looks so out of place, almost looking a like boy band member, his Anakin tantrums and getting his ass whooped by a novice is a sure way to make your new villain look almost laughable, this is a shame as Kylo Ren is such as badass name and deserves better….
Forgive my little rant on the negative of Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens but as I mentioned above the film also has some positives – firstly the new characters Rey, Finn and Poe played by Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Oscar Isaac are all exceptional, their chemistry, energy and undoubted excitement over being in a Star Wars movie was there for all to see, they bring great hope & optimism for future movies in the franchise – it would also be rude of me not to mention another fine performance (ala Peter Cushing) by the wonderfully talented Domhnall Gleeson playing General Hux this Irish guy is one of the screen’s finest young actors so maybe his role could be beefed up a little bit more for Rian Johnson’s eighth movie in the series – secondly the quality of the action sequences, especially those involving the Millenium Falcon, that chase scene with Rey in the driver seat early in the movie made my hands all clammy and the hairs on the back of my neck stand to attention – exciting was not the word – third and finally the biggest positive I could give The Force Awakens is all about sentiment, from the score by maestro John Williams to the return of some of the much loved characters from the old movies including Solo, Leia, Luke, Chewbacca (grrrwaaaaaarggggh), R2D2 and C3PO all of which have some screen time in this new movie, is what the Star Wars movies are all about – in fairness J.J does a fine job balancing the old characters with the new ones….
Yes the film has a lot of negatives and plenty of unanswered questions but overall as a big screen spectacle J.J Abrams Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens is a fabulously entertaining movie that fits well in the Star Wars universe – my advise is to see the film in 3D as the action scenes are incredible and the extra detail this brings to the movie is worth the admittance fee on it’s own – it’s a shame the writers and J.J took the easy route out in trying to replicate the old movies and not delivering something new and fresh to this world but when all is said and done the movie is a blast and one I look forward to watching again and again ★★★★
Back in the late 90’s Ritchie was one of the most exciting new filmmaker’s to hit our screens, from his witty, violent debut Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels followed by the equally brilliant Snatch these film’s were packed with his trademark visual stamp of quick, witty storytelling with a side helping of brutality and colorful if not likeable characters, he was a filmmaker on top of his game but then things got complicated, Ritchie met and married Madonna and in my opinion his focus went, 2002’s Swept Away was a shocker and in 2005 and 2008 respectively came two average and somewhat lackluster efforts in Revolver and Rock’n’Rolla both movies written & directed by Ritchie with both failing to ignite the passion of old – then in 2009 after his marriage to Madonna was over the unthinkable happened, Hollywood came calling and Ritchie sold his soul to the devil, churning out two big screen, big budget Sherlock Holmes movies that sadly added nothing new to the genre and did very little to bring Ritchie out of his career spiraling doldrums – yes OK the movies did good business at the box office but in fairness these two films that starred Robert Downey Jr could have been directed by any action movie director, it seemed that Ritchie’s originality had vanished and was replaced by an imposter….
Four Years later…. and Guy Ritchie brings us yet another big budget, Hollywood action movie but before you * sigh and say really? * this one unlike the Holmes movies has a special ingredient, from start to finish Guy was totally involved in the writing process – so here’s what I thought….
MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E is super stylish, quick witted and contains some of the slickest action scenes I’ve seen in the cinema this year – keeping the setting of the movie in the 60s was a master stroke, the magic of the music, the gorgeous locations & dare I say it the striking beauty of its cast enhanced my overall enjoyment of the film – the relationship between Cavill’s Napoleon Solo and Hammer’s Illya Kuryakin is the real gut of the movie, as actors they oozed chemistry both delivering their finest screen work to date, Cavill looking more at ease playing a super spy rather than Superman and showing me that he is easily the front runner to replace Craig as the next Bond, it’s easily his best screen role to date – Ritchie’s witty screenplay allows each of their characters to come to the fore, Solo’s wisecracking and Kuryakin’s anger issues make for a delicious cocktail of respect & bad ass rivalry allowing us the viewer to have so much fun watching it all play out !! ★★★★½
The Interview (2014/5) – Movie Review ★★★★
“They Hate us caus they Ain’t-us”
Director: Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg – Cast: James Franco, Seth Rogen, Lizzy Caplan, Randall Park, Diana Bang and Charles Rahi Chun – Synopsis: The Interview follows Dave Skylark and Aaron Rapaport as two friends running a TV show in the US called “Skylark Tonight” interviewing celebrities who usually spout trashy & outrageous nonsense – the show somehow manages to catch the eye of a certain North Korean leader Kim Jong Un who as it turns out is big fan of the show and grant the pair a one on one interview, upon hearing of this the CIA recruit Skylark and Rapaport to help assassinate the Korean Leader and that’s when the fun really begins Verdict: as you may know The Interview has become a movie shrouded in controversy, and just like a script from a Hollywood movie it all started with Sony axing the film from its planned Christmas schedule due to hacking threats (possibly the North Koreans?) which immediately saw a whole host of celebrities including George Clooney and the President of the United States taking to social media & many news outlets to decry the decision calling Sony weak and asking them to reconsider – it only took a few days for Sony to capitulate, with the FBI now involved in tracking these hackers a statement was put out that The Interview would return to the festive schedule and be shown in selected cinemas after all ! Overall: As a fan of Rogen and Franco’s style of brainless, moronic, insanely daft humor I had high hopes for this film their latest big screen pairing and by it’s end credits boy was I not disappointed – if you dislike gross-out comedy satires that produce the side splitting laughs but also in turn make you reach for the vomit bag, and your only thinking of watching the film due to the nonsensical over the top attention it’s received then you may want to reconsider – The Interview is made of the blackest of humor, some may even call the film distasteful and maybe it is – but overall it’s a well executed, tongue in cheek comedy that centers around a subject matter that shouldn’t be funny but really is, and that all due to it’s great material, it’s high tempo and a superb cast that includes a delicious turn by Randall Park playing Kim Jong Un who’s not only uncanny in resemblance to the North Korean leader but his camp & creepy portrayal makes his performance one of the true comic highlights of the year – if you have loved Rogen & Franco’s past movie pairings in Neighbors, This Is the End and Pineapple Express then I am pretty confident you will love The Interview it’s a comedy that will tickle you senseless, make your eye’s stream like a river and make your belly bounce till it hurts – the scenes that include that Eminem interview, Rapaport’s insertion, Kim Jong Un’s seduction of Skylark including the basketball come orgy and the tank ride, every moment on screen that included Sook played by the fabulous Diana Bang and each and every Franco smile, grimace and utterly stupid sentence spoken make The Interview one of 2014’s finest comedy achievements and one I can not wait to re-watch !!