During a vacation in the Catskills, an author and a stranger from a neighbouring cabin are thrown together after a power outage strikes the area : Both decide to pass the time by telling ghost stories which leads to chaos and their ultimate fears slowly starting to become reality : Josh Ruben’s Cabin in the Catskills horror movie SCARE ME is certainly my kind of movie jam, a slice of original horror that showcases the ability to scare whilst acting almost theatre like with it’s sharp and smart dialogue that’s executed in a fresh and creative style : Ruben and his co-star Aya Cash who’s energy matches the display she gives as Stormfront in the television show The Boys are outrageous, both feeding off each other like piranah’s with the movies ultimate payoff being delivered with satisfying style : I really dug how Ruben utilises the sound effects in the movie to enhance the visuals creating this scary vibe that’s deliciously atmospheric and adds so much to it’s horror telling, you just know something’s going to happen and it’s fun finding out when….. a low budget gem and one I feel would benefit from multiple viewings ★★★★
Yesterday we lost a giant in Daria Nicolodi : her contribution to the horror genre and Italian Cinema can only be described as immense : her legacy will live on through her work, starring in films such as Deep Red, Tenebrae, Opera, Paganini Horror and Inferno and her partnership with horror maestro Dario Argento she also co-wrote Suspiria and provided the voice of Mater Suspiriarum, Daria also wrote the Argento classic Inferno : her work has played a huge part in me growing into the Cinephile I am today and my enjoyment of her work will continue to play on until I too find myself in the arms of whatever comes next RIP x
Number 2 of My Top 31 Horror Movies : After a struggling writer get’s a job looking after the Overlook Hotel as a caretaker for the winter, something happens to him and his family in extreme & unforgiving ways : Based on Stephen King’s best selling novel of the same name and directed by Stanley Kubrick THE SHINING is an unforgettable journey into the mind of addiction, isolation, family and supernatural terror that has effected me over the years since it’s release back in 1980, I don’t think I’ve ever drooled over or talked about a movie more than this horror masterpiece : very much like Jaws that was written by Peter Benchley The Shining is an example where the movie is better than it’s original source and the changes they made when bringing it to the screen were not only in my eyes justified but add so much to the film’s scare factor, it’s scale and overall stigma : take the main differences for example, the infamous twins that scare the life out of Danny in the movie are not in the book, the blood filled elevators spilling out into the hallway is not in the book, the atmospheric maze and clever icy cold climax is not in the book and the words Jack was typing all Work And No Play Makes Jack A Dull Boy is not in the book, of course I have always been of the opinion that writers should never allow their work to be messed with & for some reason Stephen King allowed big chunks of his book to be altered, but I do believe that the changes made add so much to the terrifying nature of Kubrick’s masterpiece that watching The Shining without these would be a poorer experience : in fairness as with the Top Five Movies on the list The Shining could easily be Number One, it’s scares me because it’s about a family, their isolation and the effect The Overlook has on them all through the harshest of winters in Colorado : from it’s opening shots of the camera following Jack’s car up the mountain road to The Overlook accompanied by it’s hair raising score, Jack breaking down the bathroom door with an axe whilst reciting Little pigs, little pigs, let me come in. Not by the hair of your chiny-chin-chins? and the epic confrontation on the stairwell that involves a baseball bat there are just so many memorable scenes in The Shining but one of them always manages to mess me up and it’s when Jack chastises Wendy for disturbing his place of work in the hotel, you can see the pain etched onto Wendy’s face as her husband says “Wendy let me explain something to you, whenever you come in here and interupt me your breaking my concentration, your distracting me….” the scene is emotional as you not only start to fear for Wendy’s safety but also feel sorry for her and the way that she is being treated, it’s scary because you are now seeing the changes manifesting themselves in Jack and it’s sensational because of it’s deliverance by two actors on top of their game in Nicholson and Duvall : other factors that make The Shining such an amazing movie experience range from it’s eye catching us of color, including The Gold Room’s bathroom with it’s stunning red decor, Room 237’s evocative green & orange bathroom & the mesmerising carpeted hallways throughout, a terrific performance from Danny Lloyd who plays Danny, those tricycle scenes are just Iconic and his psychic abilities lend to some rather creepy, blood soaked images & that moment Wendy is trying to comfort her son and then sees the word REDRUM reversed in the bedroom mirror is unbelievably chilling : overall The Shining is an emotional rollercoaster ride, a character driven horror piece that’s as visually disturbing as it is stunning ★★★★★
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……
the gravelly voice, handsome looks and steely gut driven performances is what I think of when someone mentions SAM SHEPARD yet this guy had so much more in his locker, a talented playwright, a veteran of the stage and writing credits that include the sublime film Paris, Texas – in recent times we had the pleasure of Sam’s acting talent as papa Rayburn in the brilliant Bloodline and although his screen time was limited his quality in each scene shone through – for me my favourite Sam Shepard roles include Thunderheart, The Assassination of Jesse James and of course the brilliant The Right Stuff – he will be missed down here but I’m pretty darn sure that he’ entertaining the masses up there….
It’s always painful as a film fan to loose anybody you’ve admired in the business, even if that person was from afar and sadly the passing of Garry Marshall is one that hurts like hell – yes I know what your thinking “you never knew the guy so why the sad face?” well let me tell you why the sad face – Garry Marshall was a huge part of my television life, back in the 80s I would watch his classic creations Mork & Mindy, The Odd Couple and Happy Days the Marshall stamp was clear on all these shows, simple, effective and loveable characters that would bring tears of joy to my face, then in the late 80s and early 90s when I became truly addicted to film he delivered two classic film gems 1987s Overboard with Goldie Hawn & Kurt Russell and then in 1990 the romantic Pretty Woman with Julia Roberts & Richard Gere, both fantastic slices of cinema that continue to get replayed in my home on a yearly basis – other much loved films in my collection include his 2004 film Raising Helen with Kate Hudson and the underrated Frankie & Johnny from 1991 that starred Al Pacino & Michelle Pfeiffer – so as you can see Garry Marshall meant a lot (and still does), his film style, his love of the audience, his performers and most of all he above all else his creations made me smile when I needed to smile most and for that I thank him RIP
So finally the wait is over and I have returned from an exciting, exhausting double bill of Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol & the latest Spy Adventure in the series Rogue Nation
“Ethan and the IMF team light the fuse once more and take on their most impossible mission yet, eradicating a rogue organisation known simply as The Syndicate”
Mission Impossible Rogue Nation is SEXY, INTELLIGENT & ELECTRIFYING Tom Cruise shows why at the age of 53 he’s still one of the greatest action stars of his generation, he not only looks the part of super spy Ethan Hunt, but he’s an actor who appears fearless, completing death defying stunts, making the whole experience more believable and enjoyable – in the movie he’s well supported by newcomer Rebecca Ferguson who totally owns her role, killing it in the frantic & exhilarating fight scenes, and giving her character Ilsa Faust a dynamic of mystery, flair and beauty, Ilsa’s fantastic opening scene not only illustrates her intentions in the movie but also sets the tone of what’s to come – Simon Pegg returns as annalist Benji and is on top form cracking some great one liners & taking on a more action orientated role in which he handles deliciously well – as a big fan it would be rude of me not to mention the bloody brilliant Sean Harris who nails the villainous Lane, according to director McQuarrie Harris wasn’t too keen on a role in the movie but I am so glad he changed his mind as he’s not only a superb actor but gives Rogue Nation one hell of a formidable foe for Hunt & the team to deal with.
Christopher McQuarrie who co-wrote & directed Mission Impossible : Rogue Nation deserves a lot of the credit, his script & direction is smart, exciting & barrels of fun & in my humble opinion it’s one of this years best experiences at the movies – other members of McQuarrie’s team on the movie should be applauded none more so than master cinematographer and Oscar Winner Robert Elswit who’s work on Rogue Nation is pretty impressive, he’s great vision, the films action scenes are insane, beautifully shot especially the car & bike chases, Hunt hanging from the plane and of course the underwater (don’t run out of oxygen) scene that had me biting my nails, labored breathing like I was actually in the tank with Cruise
Overall: Mission Impossible : Rogue Nation is exciting, pulse raising, rip roaring cinematic fun that had me screaming for the next chapter whilst leaving the cinema, Cruise is far from this washed up star some idiot critics declared a few years back and has produced his best work yet on this franchise – you will be hard pushed to find a better summer blockbuster ENJOY ★★★★½
The last entry in the Jurassic franchise was 14yrs ago way back in 2001 and was a pretty ordinary monster movie so when the word came out that Spielberg who directed the first two movies in the trilogy had approached Safety Not Guaranteed’s Colin Trevorrow I was surprised and slightly apprehensive about it’s final outcome – Trevorro’s movie takes place 22yrs after the events of 1993’s Jurassic Park, Hammond’s original concept is now a reality and us humans can mingle and watch the dinosaurs whilst traveling on futuristic rides set around the landscape known as Jurassic World – but like all businesses the Park has to make money so the powers within create a new attraction, a Dinosaur that’s bigger, faster & more terrifying than anything that’s come before – well I won’t reveal what happens next in the movie but here’s my thoughts on Trevorro’s Jurassic World
For all you directors involved in remakes, sequels or prequels of classic movies of yesteryear watch Jurassic World – Colin Trevorrow demonstrates how to appeal to a whole new fan base whilst respecting the audience that fell in love with the movies predecessors – As a movie spectacle Jurassic World is a popcorn munching wet dream, the film’s pace is electric, it’s cast full of energy & the film’s visuals are simply jaw dropping – the raptors have never looked so good, the futuristic theme park makes you want to visit there and once your eyes stare down on that Dino-Hybrid the Indominus Rex I guarantee the hairs on the back of your neck will stand to attention, wait for a minute then hide for cover
Overall: Jurassic World is what every summer blockbuster should be – exhilarating, fist pumping fun that gives its audience a helluva ride – and with the welcome addition of John Williams spine tingling score, the many elegant nods to Spielberg’s original and its storyline paving the way for more sequels to follow makes this monster movie a nostalgic, heart thumping cinematic experience ★★★★½
The Babadook (2014) – Movie Review ★★★★½
“Baba dook dook dook!!!“
Director: Jennifer Kent – Cast: Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman, Daniel Henshall, Tiffany Lyndall-Knight & Tim Purcell – Synopsis: a single mother, haunted by the death of her husband, battles with her son’s fear of a monster lurking in the house, but she soon discovers an evil presence all around her – Overall: Scary & well acted horror films are quite a rarity these days, sadly we live in a movie world of endless remakes that only a quarter of which are decent and the rest once watched sit gathering dust amongst our film collection’s SO as you can imagine when I came across this film, a horror that felt so personal, so dark and one that left the hairs on the back of my neck stand to attention I DECIDED that I should shout the praise to all and sundry, to whomever would listen and most of all to the those who love a good old fashioned scare !! The Babadook starts with a thump, within its first 15mins I was already invested in its characters, I felt for Samuel we’ve all been there scared of the demons in our closet or under our bed – and I sympathized with Amelia Samuel’s mum, tortured by her loss, fighting to keep her own sanity and trying to bring up her son in a somewhat normal existence. Being a big fan of the horror genre and not easily scared by things that go bump in the night I was surprised by how haunting an effect Jennifer Kent’s film-making debut had on me, the story also written by Kent is almost like a ghost story of yesteryear, the majority of which is set inside a creepy house in the suburbs that adds to the movies scare, giving you the sense of confinement, suffocating you, a movie cabin fever that just keeps building, and building and building – of course along with its terrific story, it’s effective Kubrick-esque camerawork & an eerie score that at times would make your heart beat twice as quick – filmmaker Jennifer Kent also had to find an actress that would help bring her creation to life, become this broken women, this mum who would do unspeakable things and in Aussie Essie Davis she found exactly that, if I tell you that Essie Davis delivers the best horror performance for an actress since Shelley Duvall went visiting the Overlook in Kubrick’s The Shining then you know that this performance and this movie is something very special – Essie captures Amelia’s vulnerability, she’s a mother unhinged, you can almost feel her pain & you witness her terror as things really do go bump in the night. The Babadook is a nail biting, pillow hiding, lights on kinda horror that’s very reminiscent of early Polanski with splashes of Hitchcock, Kubrick and the imagination of Roald Dahl thrown in – the use of the illustrated book throughout is a master stroke, it’s images are effective and its words within pretty scary – there are some spoiler scenes throughout the movie that pull at the heart strings and these are only possible due to Kent’s groundwork in building characters you truly care for – I can’t remember many filmmakers making their horror movie debut with such gusto but Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook is up there with the very best of them ! This is one subtle, chilling horror that deserves your attention – just make sure you lock all the doors first….
3 Days to Kill (2014) – Movie Review ★★★¾
Director: McG – Cast: Kevin Costner, Amber Heard, Hailee Steinfeld, Connie Nielsen, Richard Sammel, and Eriq Ebouaney– Synopsis: After being told he has months to live, CIA agent Ethan Renner (Costner) decides to quit the agency, mend some bridges and build a closer relationship with his estranged wife and daughter before checking out – but his past wont let go and when’s he’s offered a deal to take an experimental drug that could save his life in exchange for one last assignment Ethan has no choice but to step back into the line of fire and track down the world’s most deady terrorist – Verdict: McG can be quite the filmmaker, he knows how to deliver action to the screen with thunderous results, they’re usually fast flowing, with big set pieces and pretty entertaining affairs such as Charlie’s Angels, Full Throttle and Terminator Salvation – but sadly McG can also direct the odd dud like 2012’s comedy This Means War that had a superb cast but was the worst film by a distance that year and sucked in every department – luckily for us 3 Days to Kill sees the director return to form, it’s smart yet simple script written by the French maestro Luc Besson is played out by a stella cast including the class act that is Kevin Costner, the eye candy Amber Heard and Ender’s Game actress Hailee Steinfeld all giving the movie a solid footing, making the movie enjoyable to watch and bringing believability to their characters and scenarios – I believe most of the outside shots were on location in Paris and Belgrade and this lent to the feel of a European thriller, typical of McG the action scenes are crisp, exciting & at times explosive and the wry humor throughout is delivered with masterclass by Costner who seems to be getting to an age like Eastwood did ten years back where you can see the swagger of an aging acting pro oozing confidence and looking great doing so – yes at times it maybe cliched and predictable, and yes Steinfeld and Heard were underused but Overall I had fun with 3 Days to Kill McG has delivered an energetic action thriller, that’s funny, sentimental and so so enjoyable….
Edge Of Tomorrow (2014) – Movie Review ★★★★½
Director: Doug Liman – Cast: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton, Brendan Gleeson, Noah Taylor & Kick Gurry – Synopsis: Major William Cage (Cruise) a PR for the army finds himself sent to the front line, with zero combat training, fighting a war against an alien force known as the Mimics that’s slowly taking over the world – Cage manages to get himself caught in a time loop that once deceased makes him revisit his horrific day of battle all over again – during this loop he becomes more efficient at battle and meets up with Vrataski (Blunt) who’s a battle hardened war hero and together they must find a way to defeat the Mimics saving the world in the process – Verdict: If your wondering what film you should see at your local cinema this week then wonder no more ! – Based on the Japanese Novel “All You Need Is Kill” by Hiroshi Sakurazaka and delivered to the big screen by The Bourne Identity’s Doug Liman EDGE OF TOMORROW is one heck of a ride that reminds me of Aliens, Matrix and Starship Troopers wrapped around a devilishly fun Groundhog Day narrative that is not only exhilarating to watch but is a delicious cocktail of clever sci-fi, black humor and full throttle edge of the seat action that Cruise, Blunt and Paxton deliver tenfold – a lot of praise should go to McQuarry & Butterworth for a superb character driven script that’s both fresh, witty and void of romantic entanglement like too many of it’s predecessors – one of the surprises in the movie is Emily Blunt’s “Angel of Verdun” – we all know she can act but her action prowess tethered to her overall look and the deliverance of her character is convincing & superbly executed – the action arena certainly suits Ms Blunt and with the lack of strong female action heroes on our screen of late this role certainly opens some doors for future action screen time – some of my favorite moments in the movie is the breathtaking beach scene reminiscent of a science fiction Saving Private Ryan, the exchanges between Cruise & Paxton (two of my favorite actors) and Cage’s training in the army base against the mimics whilst Vrataski looks on applying the necessary bullet to the head if he fails – Overall: as a summer blockbuster Edge Of Tomorrow is one of the best in recent years, it’s fun, explosive and well worth you hitting that repeat button for another watch….
CLOSED CIRCUIT (2013) – Movie Review ★★★
Cast – Eric Bana, Rebecca Hall, Ciaran Hinds, Julia Stiles & Jim Broadbent – the film starts with an explosion in a crowded London market thought to be from a terrorist attack – it’s not long after before the police arrest Farroukh Erdogan as the prime suspect and the mastermind of the attack – Two Lawyers Martin Rose (Bana) and Claudia Simmons-Howe (Hall) who both carry personal baggage of their own are both recruited by the British Attorney General to represent Farroukh in the court of law, but as both lawyers delve deeper into the bombing they discover shocking discoveries and a web of intrigue, secrecy and cold blooded murder VERDICT as terrorism, political & courtroom thrillers go this is a pretty average affair, with some very good actors caught up in a pretty miserably slow-burning storyline that collapses into a heap of tiresome cat & mouse chase scenes with the London backdrop sadly underused – overall Closed Circuit is not the worst movie you will see this year but considering it’s cast, it’s screenplay by the usually reliable Steven Knight (Eastern Promises & Dirty Pretty Things) and a young director in John Crowley who’s directorial credits include the superb 2007 Boy A then you would be right in expecting something more than this average, at times yawn-fest of a movie….
“After a stint in prison a street racer who was framed gets the chance to act revenge on the guy who sent him down” – Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul headlines Scott Waugh’s NEED FOR SPEED – from the writer and producer of Underworld comes the Stuart Beattie (Tomorrow, When the War Began) directed fantasy horror film I, FRANKENSTEIN that stars Aaron Eckhart, Bill Nighy and Yvonne Strahovski – here’s two new movie posters…. Enjoy!
Jonathan Sobol film The Art of the Steal has a pretty exciting cast that includes Kurt Russell (The Thing), Jay Baruchal (This is the End), Matt Dillon (Rumble Fish) and Terence Stamp (Superman) – the movie follows a motorcycle daredevil and a former art thief who assembles his old crew back for one last heist – in my book anytime Kurt Russell hits our screen’s with a new feature is something to get excited for – here’s the new trailer and some stills…. Enjoy!
The Art of the Steal – US (14th March) – UK (N/A) – Australia (N/A) – also on VOD Feb 7, 2014