Thursday, 22 February 2018

T.V. REVIEW: STAR TREK-DISCOVERY

3.5/5

The Discovery Channel.

15 Episodes. Starring: Sonequa Martin-Green, Doug Jones, Shazad Latif, Anthony Rapp, Mary Wiseman, Wilson Cruz, Jayne Brook, Rainn Wilson, James Frain, Jason Isaacs & Michelle Yeoh. Created By: Brian Fuller & Alex Kurtzman.

Shatner's Captain Kirk proclaiming, "space" was never going to be the final frontier for the voyages of the Starship Enterprise...it was always going to continue its mission. Whether it was that outstanding, original, swinging sixties show that took us to the future of diversity right now at warp speed. Giving way to 'The Next Generation' of Picard making it so almost a half century later into the golden era of the 90's. Or all the energized spin-offs since. From the 'Deep Space Nine' space station pit stop, to the new milleniuum 'Voyager' that already showed back then it was no longer a mans world in the future that was female. Even Scott Bakula took a 'Quantum Leap' for 'Enterprise', before the whole NCC-1701 was rebooted for the stunning phase of the new movie trilogy starring Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto's Kirk and Spock going 'Into Darkness' and 'Beyond', taking on everyone from 'Sherlock' (Benedict Cumberbatch) to 'Luther' (Idris Elba). No matter which J.J. Abrams you prefer, trekkies have managed to stay in the battle with the other star lord of the space franchise, 'Star Wars'. Despite this peaceful vessel being more akin to pirates without the plunder, as opposed to George Lucas' new age, wild west. Even if sabers glow more than phasers, 'Star Trek' has managed to stay in the same hyperspace as the real force in a galaxy far, far away. And it's been that way since a long time ago. But now spinning like a Gyrobi and taking a whole new space jump, 'Star Trek-Discovery' is the latest find from the monster Netflix streaming service. That speaking of J.J. even drops brand new 'Cloverfield' trailers and then films right between the time it takes to watch Justin Timberlake perform the Superbowl halftime show and then see the Philadelphia Eagles win the rest of the games touchdown showdown. Even adding a 'Lost In Space' reboot to this project paradox, Netflix is the small screen king of new T.V. originals. From 'Orange Is The New Black' to 'Stranger Things'. All those Marvel street-level 'Daredevil', 'Defenders' and now a whole new Star Trek universe created by Brian Fuller ('American Gods') and Alex Kurtzman ('The Mummy'...not to mention previous 'Star Trek' trilogy entries) for the leader of this new app age that has no chill. So much so it even epically offers Klingon subtitles whilst you watch for all those die-hards that studied it at college. Hlja!

Logged on before William Shatner's Kirk even gave us a single stardate for his signature captains diary entry, 'Discovery' really takes us back to the bold beginnings of this new life, final frontier voyage. And although much darker than the previous installments it actually chronologically proceeds (forcing the hand of the Federations reluctant war with the bones of those take no survivors Klingon's). There's a compelling calm to the iconic interpolated theme over the storyboard like blueprints of the terrific title-sequence. That just like the 'Stranger Things' theme won't have you skipping the credits like those who don't know what to do when a Marvel movie finishes. You're going to want to see this through to the end. Even if the season finale is a little (only a tad) anti-climatic, until it's super second season spoiler comes into final frame focus for the fans. Aside from that 'Discovery's' opening season finds all of 'Star Trek's' greatest hits over the years for your viewing pleasure. There's even an episode directed by number two, Riker himself Jonathan Frakes. Making everything except a red-shirt killing theirs for the taking and your fodder. There's uncloaked war-birds reducing your shields to 15%. Conferences of conversations just as captivating for your fandom debate teaming. Clinical quarters as coldly cool as they are HD sharp. Alternative dimensions that keep going back and forth until you have no idea what reality is...or which way is up. And even Q like villains for your charm, in the form of would you believe it Rainn Wilson from the rolodex of 'The Office' of all people?! But what would 'Star Trek' be without its equal oppurtunity, justice for all approach to leaving the old bound idea of earth for a new world? 'Star Trek's' notions of celebrating diversity was always light speed ahead of its critical time it was created in. And we aren't talking about Vulcans here Uhura...not yet anyway. It's time to put both pairs of fingers together on your right hand, as this long life franchise still prospers in a world that should offer the same salute of respect no matter if you are black, white or L.G.B.T.

Alive and running this show 'The Walking Dead' star Sonequa Martin-Green is deadly on the business end of a phaser, taking a shuttle to bring the war to the Klingon's door in this series' very pilot. She may not find her place in the captains chair, but does she find her feet! And having her as the star of this show is something a world still in need of some Trek like advancement sorely needs right now in Sonequa. But the great thing about it is as always 'Star Trek' doesn't make a big song and dance deal about something that in reality is. They know it should just be this way anyway. When it comes to the actual captain of this ship you have two choices. 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon' legend Michelle Yeoh follows the seat of Katherine Mulgrew and also makes history, becoming the first Asian captain of a starship with a bold and beautiful lead. Whilst 'Harry Potter' franchise and 'Death Of Stalin' star Jason Isaac's continues his trend of being in everything you're watching right now as a gruff and war ready cap looking to violate the prime directive as much as he is the hull of his enemies ship. He's getting pressure from 'Gattaca' Admiral Jayne Brook, who makes for a commanding presence everytime she guest stars here. Whilst alien Doug Jones makes for a great candidate...not just for captain, but award season too. As the actors who has prosthetically assisted directing legend Guillermo del Toro in everything from 'Pans Labyrinth' to the 'Hellboy' series to now Oscar favourite 'The Shape Of Water' (yep he's the slippery lizard like creature Sally Hawkins falls for) underrated time is now. If Gollum/Caesar motion-capture actor Andy Serkis deserves an Oscar covered in white spots well it's time a prosthetic covered one shows its face for Jones. The whole crew is airtight from recovering P.T.S.D. Klingon torture survivor Shazad Latif, to fan favourite Mary Wiseman as Tilly. Even recognisable face James Frain whose already starred in a laundry list of iconic T.V. shows ('True Blood', 'Gotham', 'Agent Carter' and 'True Detective') shows up as a vulcan dad. But it's the charismatic Anthony Rapp, the 'Rent' actor off-Broadway who really makes his mark. Literally having the spore drive to space jump faster than a warp signature running through his veins. Yet it's his toothbrush in front of the mirror consoling relationship with forthright medic Wilson Cruz that's really the most beautiful thing about this show and yet again how 'Star Trek' rightfully so with no fuss or scandal treats this as exactly as it is. Completely normal love between two human beings. Need we stress anymore? Just watch how capable we are of reaching the future right now. 'Star Trek' has already in the name of entertainment, science and humanity taught us so much. It's time for a new 'Discovery'. Are you ready to seek out even more new life and new civilisations? Are you ready to boldly go where no man...or woman has gone before? Beam me up! TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Further Filming: 'Star Trek' (2009), 'Star Trek: Voyager', 'Star Trek: Enterprise'.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

THEATRE REVIEW: CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF (West End, London)

5/5

Rooftop Blues.

Starring: Jack O'Connell, Sienna Miller & Colm Meaney. Director: Benedict Andrews.

"Who are you"? Sienna Miller desperately asks her on-stage husband Jack O'Connell and herself all at the same time as she stares into the tortured soul of her bedrooms vanity mirror like it was a gateway to another dimension. An alternate reality that reflects what she really wants and wishes to see. A happy wife. A happy life. All in matrimony with what marriage is meant to be. The white picket fence that runs longer than the honeymoon period, the whole nine. But Maggie 'The Cat' feels like one with the clipped claws of it's paws on a hot tin roof. And as she's clinging on for dear life with her polished nails her husband is coaxing or advising her to just "jump off the roof", like he's trying to tell her to just let go or be done with it all. "Living with someone you love can be lonelier than living entirely alone, if the one you love doesn't love you", she pleadingly reaches out to him, sat next to him on bed like a consoling friend. In what's meant to be "their" room, one staircase step up from living. But all the loving is lost when they merely "occupy the same cage". Imprisoned by neglect. Physically and mentally. The soul is still there, but what about the heart? And what of the spirit? As in this haunted house the only respite, however brief comes at the bottom of a glass or ashtray. And no matter how much this Maggie may ignite her look like one last cigarette. From her negligee to her made up cocktail dress she can't keep her husbands mixed mind off the drink and into bed...or just the loving embrace of her tender arms. This blonde bombshell, femme fatale feline married into wealth, but is now poorer instead of richer when it comes to a pockets empty love. Sizzling with heartbroken heat, this is a scorching Sienna Miller's time to shine. As the amazing actress of undervalued versatility, who may also be the hardest working one of late ('Foxcatcher', 'American Sniper', 'Burnt', (both with Bradley Cooper who was around this time so amazing in the Broadway/West End 'The Elephant Man' play that he should remake it for another adaptation on screen), 'Black Mass', 'Live By Night', 'High Rise' and 'Lost City Of Z') gives us her best work by far to date. And those tabloids thought this former 'South Kensington', 'Factory Girl' was just 'Alfie' Jude Law's former flame. Then just those burnt out pages wait until she makes real playbill and theatre top headlines as she rises off this tin roof like the flames of a phoenix.

If only this Jack could look up to take notice. But O'Connell simply can't stop staring at his scotch that keeps getting refilled and refreshed by the shower he sits in. The 'Skins' star completely stark naked physically and emotionally, just like Sienna for the most intimate performance you'll see from either of these big names only wearing their tattoos. That's just the unfiltered purity of theatre. And this was the 'Starred Up' breakthrough talent that showed even imprisoned he was 'Unbroken' in wars like the Northern Ireland one of '71' or the Wall Street versus main street one of Jodie Foster's 'Money Monster', stealing the show from Julia Roberts and George Clooney like he had a gun to his head. This Brick former football star has fallen like his loose namesake, or the ball he dropped. Now the only crutch that picks him up, apart from the one that assists his legs plaster cast is the one that comes with a screw top. But he'll never find "that click" he's looking for in his head if he's always unfastening the bottle. "Time just outran me" the former touchdown hero quiveringly tells his Big Daddy. "Liquors one way out, deaths the other" he Southern drawls into depression with little comfort to take the edge off. Chasing each shot like gasoline dousing his internal, raging fire. And like the bottom of the glass has no burning end. He's beyond gone. Far from lost. Or maybe he's just lost someone. His wife...even if she is standing right in front of him, beside him and behind him. Or maybe it's this quarterbacks former Skipper. Gone to the same suicide, Brick keeps teasing in this house drink by drink as he bites the cork out the top. Not knowing if the next half measure or empty bottle is going to keep him from...or take him there. His only detox comes in the cold shower he drowns himself in almost as much as alcohol. Even in his soaked to the bones clothes, as even his mother weathers the rain to console him as he throws his arm around her like a retired football player who can't quite put the spiral on the pigskin like he used to. Steam rising from his burdened shoulders like smoke from a burned down to the ground foundations of a home. How's he going to keep it together when all the pieces he's trying to make click are shattered like the glass he out of the numb, rage shatters against the same vanity mirror that only reveals more cracks?

There's only so much surface that can take all this abuse of substance. But you'll love the mendacity of it all. Just like you will Big Daddy...and we aren't talking about a Sandler comedy. But you'll love this loveable rouge and the rest of his gone that way family (they always do so in that finacially nurtured nature when it comes to money marked "inheritance", if there's a will to that way). And yes you do recognise him. That's Colm Meaney. 'Star Trek: The Next Generations' answer to their very own version of Scottie and the character actor who was in the partnering background of every other action thriller of the 90's. But here the tuxedo shedding, cigar chomping Meaney really means it with his biggest role to date. Chewing the scenery and stealing it like everyone wants to do his plantation profit. And down on the roof, Australian theatre director Benedict Andrews brings it all together in Young Vic's West End like he did with his version of 'A Streetcar Named Desire'. And now with another from Tennessee Williams, this Mississippi masterpiece is given the theatre treatment it deserves. From the sparkling shadows of the illuminating lighting, all the way down to the stirring scoring on this sparsely straight forward, but simply sublime set. All you need for this homebound drama is a bed, nightstand and neon frame to light up this Pulitzer Prize winning play that needs to connect with a modern crowd desensitised by all they can see on a smaller screen illuminated in front of them at their fingertips, whether intermission or not. But it really does share a trend amongst the crowd like something seat to seat, word of mouth viral. One of love, life and loss that resonates with everyone, no matter if they are clutching a program or a phone bill. Because when it comes down to it all our hearts end up in the same place after all. This gets you all the way to your bones. And there's a victory in that understanding. Just like there is with our leading man and lady lights, Miller and O'Connell. Sienna and Jack even take this stories conceptual themes higher than the Hollywood sanitised classic piece of adapted cinema starring icons Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor, who these young legends meet in legacy when it comes to sticking to the true nature of the script here. Two hearts connected by being beautiful, but not weak people. Refusing to give up gracefully and staying on that roof for as long as they can take. Because it takes more guts to live than it does to die in this life. Just like it does to love too. And once 'Cat On A Hot Tin Roof' gets its claws into and under your skin, it scars like a fire brand that will never leave you like the one who got away. Till death do your heart part. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Friday, 16 February 2018

REVIEW: BLACK PANTHER

4/5

Panther Power.

134 Mins. Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, Daniel Kaluuya, Winston Duke, Martin Freeman, Andy Serkis, Sterling K. Brown, Angela Bassett & Forest Whitaker. Director: Ryan Coogler.

Can you see the pride in the panther? Tony Stark's Iron Man may be the billionaire, playboy, philanthropist. But he doesn't have these riches or resources. Dr. Bruce Banner's Incredible Hulk may be the strongest Avenger out there when he's angry. But he can't absorb force like this. Thor's Asgardian world of ravishing realms may be a ye olde testament to a biblical proportion palace of the Gods. But it doesn't have the colour or vibrancy of the vibranium laced Wakanda. And Steve Rogers' Captain America may be the stars and stripes, patriotic pride of his United nation. But without the claws of Black Panther who is going to get this man a shield once the 'Civil War' goes to 'Infinity' in this trilogy concluding summer and beyond? T'Challa forever! 'Message From The King' star Chadwick Boseman has another one from the throne after his scene pouncing turn in 'Cap 3'/'Avengers 2.5'. And after this relatively new leading man superstar has already played a careers worth of real life black icons (baseball legend Jackie Robinson in his '42' debut. Godfather of soul James Brown in 'Get On Up' and former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Thurgood 'Marshall'), he plays a comic-book one with regal honour that may aswell be real for the millions of kids, black or white, young or old who see him as more than the old cape, but a source of influenced inspiration. After confirming his great character in an epic ensemble piece he's truly home in his world now. And this revelation of a movie directed with too cool creativity and change by agent of that Ryan Coogler is a chance for the revolution to be televised...on the most cinematic of screens. Even if original Marvel universe big screen black hero, Anthony Mackie (his Falcon flying after and alongside Terrence Howard and then Don Cheadle's War Machine) quipped that 'Black Panther' didn't necessarily need a black director as "it wasn't like they got a horse to direct 'Seabiscuit'". But who else but 'Creed's Coogler? This is his culture. This is his time. This is the big picture. You'll want to freeze it for this moment of great change behind a real Marvel (before we see the real cosmic Captain) that ever since the Parker geeky Spider-Man always took on the responsibility to give power to those who well and truly had it, no matter who counted them out or looked at them differently. But nothing and no one right now has the power to do real good quite like this homecoming. And what a better time for this idea to be alive than Black History Month?

Afrocentric and amazing, the wonderful world of Wakanda is where this cinematic universe's first black superhero big picture resides. If you discount the Netflix 'Luke Cage' show (which is a movement you really shouldn't) and the old 'Blade' trilogy starring Wesley Snipes, who almost cut his claws as the Panther back in the day. But with all due respect to the all action hero of the golden era, who would have made a 90's Panther picture as retro cool as one of those old Sega Mega Drive Marvel beat 'em ups, when it comes to the real T'Challa no one can play this man like Boseman. Nailing this with fingertips Wolverine would be jealous of (unless those three scars on Thanos' face are from Logan). After his 'Civil War' opening battle cry he now reintroduces himself like Hov as Chadwick makes this a classic. An accented performance worked to perfection with his chain wielding 'Message From The King' dialect coach, but one that has so much more beneath the veneers of the coolest cat suit since Anne Hathaway or Michelle Pfeiffer (forget Iron Man, this billionaire in black can even out gadget Batman with a Bat-Wing clipping craft). The real power beneath the millions of nano vibranium tech is the humble heart of the good man and the one, true king who shows even more dignity and regal grace and even helpings of humour beneath the hurt than he did in his father loss, ring bearing, mantle taking debut. Heavy is the head, but in watching this throne a cavalier Chadwick Boseman wears the crown like King of the Land, LeBron James. He's not the only one with eyes on it however in this game. As straight outta Oakland again like a Golden State Warrior in reuniting with Coogler after the real life 'Fruitvale Station' and Stallone rocking 'Creed' (with Sly in a galaxy of 'Guardians' and Tessa Thompson as 'Thor-Ragnarok's' Valkeryie everyone from the 'Rocky' sequel got Marvel jobs) the third times the charm for Michael B. Jordan in their own epic trilogy. Scene stealing every moment Jordan is the greatest here like his Basketball G.O.A.T. namesake. And you'll be feeling that mask too...even more than his own perfect Panther attire. Walking into his introduction in chains, but dread locked free and scarred all the way down to all the men this Killmonger has put down, this merc with a recognisable mouth in a Mads world of multiple Josh Brolin's and Mandarins is the best Marvel villain since Tom Hiddleston's Loki looking for Thor's throne, causing Heath Ledger Joker like serious anarchy. With all due respect to Batman/Birdman Michael Keaton's working class villian, Vulture. A "bad guy" that actually has more than the point of his humanity to argue for rooting for him beyond sucker sympathy, no matter how dark he takes the Black Panther. M.J. hasn't had this much of an effect on a hero since Spidey's Mary Jane. Now what a way for the chronicles of his superhero career to rebound after the 'Fantastic 4' burnout, despite his blazing Human Torch. Jordan rules so much some who look up to this cat may want to be just like Mike.

Lucky the King has three queens in his monarchy to help protect his castle. From former flame and '12 Years A Slave' and 'Star Wars' star Lupita Nyong'o reawakening her big movie force. To 'All Eyez On Me' and 'The Walking Dead's' Danai Gurira on guard killing it with the bald head. Or how about science sister Letitia Wright providing the tech support? Partnering and bantering up with her sibling simbiotically. A Q bond worth more than a Stark/Banner science bros partnership. 'Ready Player One'? Because she is! 'Get Out' Oscar nominated actor Daniel Kaluuya is also here an on the form of his life, aswell as 'Person Of Interest' Winston Duke boxing out as the updated Man-Ape, stronger than ever in a contest to be champion. This class cast has it all even a Stan Lee rivalling cameo by Moonlight. From a Bilbo and Gollum, interrogation room reunion between 'Sherlock's' accented (what's up Doc Strange?) Martin Freeman in CIA mode and Caesar himself, another accented Andy Serkis clearly having the fun of his life without the white dots, but with a real prosthetic enhancement. To legends like 'What's Love Got To Do With It' Tina Turner, Angela Bassett as the mother of all queens about to enter the 'Mission Impossible', 'Fallout' and the 'Roots' of the grounding and great Forest Whitaker in mentor mode behind this epic empire. Even 'This Is Us' and 'The People vs O.J. Simpson' standout Sterling K. Brown does a sterling job as a war dog in the hood. But aside from Chadwick, Coogler is the real hero here in this motherland connection, bringing everything together for his biggest and most beautiful movie yet. Refreshing Marvel's formulated feel like Taika Waititi did with the ravishing 'Ragnarok' this fall gone. This from a guy who got in the ring with 'Rocky' and also fought the police over 'Fruitvale'. But here he reaches for a higher power of spiritual soul to erase all the hate in a heartbroken world. And oh how sweet this is to be looked at by you. This movie landscape is lavishing. From the wonders of Wakanda and it's sonic subway showdown. To the South Korean soul of the Seoul neighbouring, busy billboard city of Busan and a casino chipping, car flipping chase that runs like a train through the electric soaked streets of rain for this kings worldwide reign. Just like the purple plant neon veins of his upgraded black suit, all vibranium everything, no steel panther. Car candy hasn't been this fast or furious in the Far East since Tokyo if you catch my drift? This superior superhero film scores so many points and even has the best and most important rapper alive right now, Kendrick Lamar curating a sick soundtrack featuring all the stars, from SZA to 'Homecoming' Miles Morales uncle, Childish Gambino...DAMN! And you best rock with it until the final post credits scene that is well worth sticking like popcorn on the floor around for, no Cap PSA joke on you. This is one movie right now which you won't mind waiting on 'Infinity War' for. Could this even be the best Marvel movie in the cinematic universe 'Winter Soldier'?  As when I left the cinema with absolutely everyone in attendance feeling the same sort of superpower they did with 'Wonder Woman'-that had nothing to do with capes but had everything to do with flying-there was one kid wearing a Black Panther costume...he was white! Now what does that tell you? An African heritage, cultural phenomenon of textured tradition for a brave new world. Raising a fist for the power of how much black lives matter without any appropriation or exploitation. The revolution is here. Wakanda forever. Wakanda for the people. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Further Filming: 'Captain America: Civil War', 'Creed', 'Message From The King'.

Sunday, 11 February 2018

REVIEW: THE POST

4/5

All The Presidents Newsmen.

116 Mins. Starring: Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Sarah Paulson, Bob Odenkirk, Carrie Coon, Michael Stuhlbarg, Jesse Plemons, David Cross, Alison Brie, Tracy Letts, Matthew Rhys, Bruce Greenwood & Bradley Whitford. Director: Steven Speilberg.

Don't stop the press! Even if Trump is screaming, "fake news" at the turn of every print page. Like freedom of speech, the right for a free press is paramount. Especially if broadly broadsheet speaking it's essential and not tabloid, speculative junk detrimental to effecting real change for the better. Right now in the 24 hour news cycle from digital television to the scrolling of social media, the up to the second updates come through, raw, ready and unfiltered. But it wasn't always like this millennials...no, I'm here, look up! Back in the days when newstring actually wrapped up the papers they threw from trucks, people rushed out into the streets to extra, extra read all about it. And when it came to political and even presidential scandal (you've been warned), like Watergate or the publishing of the Pentagon Papers that documented real truths and covered up lies of the United States 30 years in the Vietnam War then it really was apocalypse now for Nixon. Something we and hopefully the Donald can all learn from today in a time of turmoil so tense and terrifying in regard (or the lack of) to those in power that people actually miss Bush. Let alone the great hope of Obama. And today if art is really going to imitate life and entertainment teach us history we should read all about then who better than Hollywood golden years big three, Steven Speilberg, Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep to tell us? Speilberg himself with his latest career big-three, following his blockbuster birth ('Jaws', 'E.T.', 'Jurassic Park'), his war years ('Schindlers List', 'Saving Private Ryan' (with Hanks), 'Munich'), his new millennium science fiction future ('A.I.' and 'Minority Report' and 'War Of The Worlds' with Tom Cruise), his one of adapted wonder ('War Horse', 'The Adventures Of Tintin' and the 'BFG') and now his poignant political path of 'Lincoln', 'Bridge Of Spies' (also with an Oscar nominated Hanks) and now this latest 'Post' in a social media age that needs to reach for todays paper with their morning toast and glass of orange juice.

Definitively directed with a beautiful subtlety like his recent previous pictures, 'The Post' slots right in amongst Speilberg's best. And this is a man who has given us so much from the chair bearing his second name. From 'Duel' to what's to come with 'Ready Player One', ready to show that when it comes to nostalgic and futuristic blockbusters he really can do it all behind the Super 8. But this latest inspiration holds a much greater and important influence. No wonder the most iconic director working right now has got the most legendary actor and actress living today to finally collaborate on cinema screen for something that feels like a spiritual prequel to Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman's 'All The Presidents Men' all the way to the final frame. A movie that terrifically takes the White House to task like Boston's Oscar winning ensemble 'Spotlight' did the Catholic Church. And following their 'Bridge Of Spies' best Steven and Tom do it again like this band of acting/directing band of brothers did with 'Saving Private Ryan', 'Catch Me If You Can' (Hanks and Leo playing hot potato and passing the baton people) and 'The Terminal'. 'Road To Perdition', "none of us will see heaven" aside it's actually really refreshing to see the do-gooding, decent Hanks play someone a little crotchety...albeit still trademark Tom good guy. Hey, this is a guy that even brought sympathy to the devil of a Tommy gun wielding gangsters brim. And with classic swept back hair and rolled up sleeves and newspaper slapping, old school journalistic verve, Hanks handles his editor all the way down to the story chewing, granite growl of his accented performance. And you see the recent brilliant book authors 'Uncommon Type' Easter Egg instrument on the desk where his feet normally go. Tom's top of the column character is as classic as that across the table look from your fathers spectacles over the edge of a flicked down broadsheet.

Still despite it being the fifth go round for the Hanks/Speilberg weekdays collaboration connection. One that could see Hanks battle his former 'Philadelphia' legal aid Denzel Washington's 'Roman J. Israel, Esq.' for 'Best Actor' runner up to Gary Oldman's cigar smoking and champagne chugging Churchill for 'The Darkest Hour'. You best believe this is Meryl's movie. Don't be confused by the above photo or caption we couldn't resist for classic, cult film and behind the scenes and pages newsprint machinery purist reasons. No one in Hollywood history, leading lady or actor has had a streak like Streep. Forget the 'Phantom Thread' of retiring great Daniel Day-Lewis who is almost guranteed an Oscar as he is a nomination everytime he takes to screen for a second. This guy could probably get an Academy statue for a cameo. Meryl Streep isn't the Daniel Day-Lewis of actresses. Daniel Day-Lewis is the Meryl Streep of actors. And Streep who has been Oscar nominated an incredible 21 times and won three for 'Kramer vs Kramer', 'Sophie's Choice' and 'The Iron Lady' really has a chance for another here like her chance to add an Emmy to her trophy cabinet by joining Reese Witherspoon's 'Big Little Lies' for season two. Despite creative competition from Sally Hawkins ('The Shape Of Water'), Margot Robbie ('I, Tonya') and the 'Three Billboards' of Frances McDormand which surely will read 'Best Actress'. Hey, she even has competition from those without a nomination, like robbed, next best actress working today Jessica Chastain who could have had three for 'The Zookeepers Wife', 'Miss Sloane' and 'Molly's Game'. But Meryl's majestic performance of dignity and distinction puts her right there with the seal of the envelope. Playing the most powerful person in a room full of men who don't think she has a place until she plants her feet and seed changes the minds of a ignorant world with the news she helps make like she did in support as a 'Suffragette'. There's a classic cast here behind the all-star, all-time big three in D.C. Like 'The People vs O.J. Simpson's Sarah Paulson underused, but proved even in spare minutes of screen and husband and wife time with Hanks. Or 'Better Call Saul's' Bob Odenkirk working the public payphones again and breaking good. Like 'Gone Girl's standout stealer Carrie Coon showing she's back and here to stay like 'Fargo' and 'Glow's' Alison Brie illuminating. Or classic character actors like Michael Stuhlbarg, Jesse Plemons (on the 'Hostiles' form of his life), David Cross, Matthew Rhys and Tracy Letts bringing some of their trademark and off type best. Even vets like the always reliable Bruce Greenwood (only 'Star Trek' captain to voice Batman (yep that's right, check out 'Gotham By Gaslight') and orignal 'West Wing' member now told to 'Get Out' like the fall of 'House Of Cards', Bradley Whitford are on helping hand. But for all the big names that are read here in bold type it's all about the actual story itself that takes your eye and deserves your minds attention. And in a swipe aside generation where we are always after the next thing, whether of interest or scandal, maybe it's time to be intrigued by some history that in foreshadowing what's going on right now couldn't be more impeccably or impeachable-y relevant. Post that! TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Further Filming: 'All The Presidents Men', 'Spotlight', 'Bridge Of Spies'.

REVIEW: ROMAN J. ISRAEL, ESQ.

3.5/5

The Washington Brief.

122 Mins. Starring: Denzel Washington, Colin Farrell, Sedale Threatt Jr. & Carmen Ejogo. Director: Dan Gilroy.

Denzel H. Washington Jnr...Esquire? A title, not like the one of the mens lifestyle magazine he's cover graced more than on occasion, but one of English law dignity. One next above gentleman and below knight. Surely the multiple Academy Award nominated actor of 'Training Day', 'Glory' deserves this honour. Even if the star of 'The Pelican Brief' and Tom Hanks' attorney in 'Philadelphia' going to 'Post' battle with him this Oscar month doesn't actually practice law?! But in 'Roman J. Israel, Esq' he plays one with a cinder briefcase to the letter and accreditation for his back-to-back 'Best Actor' nomination category for this year, following his amazing adaptation directing the classic 'Fences' play he and Viola Davis won Tony's for before Oscar came calling. And now lawyering up with 'Nightcrawler' director Dan Gilroy in the downtown L.A., city of fallen angels he shows the dark underbelly under that last season of the 80's plaid suit in the Los Angeles crime community. Just like Gilroy did with a scrawn thinning Gyllenhaal until his skin crawled with the purity thirsty, dark debauched city of stars we could no longer see, even from the Gosling and Stone Griffith Observatory Hollywood hills. There's justice in this city, but it's not by a legal requirement that's anything but brief. It's one straight from the streets and you know when matters like that are taken into their own hands spread across the pavement then there can never really be peace. And as our behind the scenes player, Roman J. loses his civil rights mentor he must act for the forgotten and downtrodden before they lose their basic ones and this man with heart does his own seventies soul.

Holy like his Israel last name, Roman J. sporting a Dr. J, ABA afro is the right kind of seventies styling, Philadelphia soul that makes Denzel's character a force and forthright enough to take the bar he's passed and march it all the way up to the steps of Washington. Urkel bifocals and some padding in his three-piece that fellow Best Actor nominated leading man and favourite to take home the gong, Gary Oldman probably lent him after playing the two fingers and cigar of Churchill in 'The Darkest Hour' make him look distinct, but his definition shows us he's no laughing matter joke as his defence never rests. No matter how many feminist sisters try and humiliate him in dashiki dress at a would be inspirational speech that turns into a defamation of his character once he asks the "brothers sitting" to do the gentlemanly thing and offer up their seats to the ladies in the audience. The world doesn't work like that anymore and they have a point when they claim it's offensive. But sharply only as much as he has one when he says, "and polite". Armed to the buck teeth with some old walkman headphone buds, a soon to be as old as they iPod age libary of songs, a legal "brief" in a case just as cumbersome they are bound together by the most taught, at breaking point elastic bands that he may aswell be carrying the whole constitution and an Erving afro comb. This throwback is more than a cool cat. He's the cream that's going to help you rise to the crop and show that an old dog can still chase some new tricks and bring the retro to the modern like this oh so soulful scoring soundtrack that takes the now televised revolution of Gil-Scott Heron to the Childish Gambino of Lando to be 'Solo' artist Danny Glover. The real deal, genuine article, so sincere a single tear could open your floodgates. Thoroughly good like 'Black Panther' Chadwick Boseman's historic Thurgood 'Marshall' law biopic. A sleeper for this years Oscar season that will go amongst his forgotten best not because of the actual quality, but the sheer quantity of it all, Washington may not win the 'Best Actor' again this year but you know the man with nine accredited acclaims is more than worthy of another nomination.

Legal precedents don't just end in recess with Denzel's dynamite character going by the book, but still reading individuals rights as much as the law set in cut stone however. One of todays greatest yet amazingly still so underrated leading men, Colin Farrell is formidable in a supporting actor role. Even if at times you want to hold his oil slick, chained to the bottom of the sea feeding lawyer in contempt. He doesn't just seek Washington's counsel, he looks for ways to control him. No matter how much Roman J. Israel Esq. handles it like the pro he's been for more veteran years. Colin, who was so good recently bearded in his 'Lobster' biblical reunion of 'The Killing Of A Sacred Deer' and as a moustache maverick cop as the best thing about the slumping, second sophomore season of 'True Detective' is all cleaned up here, but you can still see the dirt. Even if his BMW with German engineering, 'Tron' like futuristic controls that an old testment guy like Israel has never laid his eyes on before looks like it was drove right off the lot. Like his gold watch has just tick tocked right out the shop. Or his pristine to the pin stripes suit has just had the tailors measuring tape whipped right off its belt. Driving round downtown, with Washington's Israel riding blunderbuss the old school and new age lawyers are perfect parallels of each other, but once they crossover in perfect time at a Lakers game they will practice and preach so much from each other that we all learn what it means to be human and flawed, especially in this age and game with a legal aid. Speaking of Los Angeles Lakers, son of a former swingman Sedale Threatt Jr. lays down more of his family ties after the tree he planted with his growth in the 'Roots' mini-series revival. Fighting the good pro bono fight with standout Carmen Ejogo who gives this engrossing film it's moral centre. The actress who started off her career alongside Eddie Murphy in 'Metro' is really on a by the script tear following her 'Alien: Covenant' and 'Fantastic Beasts' franchise. The leading lady who played Coretta Scott King in the Oscar worthy 'Selma' was always meant for more. And this is it in Gilroy's crime crawling halfway house between a drama and a thriller that still has enough heart and humour to take us past the lack of focus that comes with being weighed down with those legal requirements and the sentence you can see coming. 'Roman J. Israel, Esq' makes his mark like a true story, leaving an impression you should take like his card even if you should only call the number above and not the one crossed out below. After all it shouldn't be held against him in a court of law. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Further Filming: 'Fences', 'Flight', 'Philadelphia'.

Friday, 9 February 2018

REVIEW: DOWNSIZING

3/5

Honey I Shrunk The Damon.

135 Mins. Starring: Matt Damon, Kristen Wiig, Hong Chau, Jason Sudeikis, James Van Der Beek, Neil Patrick Harris, Laura Dern, Udo Kier & Christophe Waltz. Director: Alexander Payne.

Everything's getting smaller these days. Your cameras, your phones...the chances of your happiness sticking around if you stay glued to them. And now after his not so 'Pleasantville' trip to 'Suburbicon', Clooney 'Descendant' Matt Damon's whole world goes 'Sideways' as Alexander Payne takes one of Hollywood's biggest stars and reduces him to the size of one of Moranis' kids. This movie micromanaging is 'Downsizing' right here. And you know if they can Paul Rudd shrink a goat then the Hollywood men who want you staring at cinema screens will milk this concept for all it's worth. Turning Damon and Kristen Wiig to the suburban equivalent of Marvel superheroes 'Ant-Man and The Wasp', this scaled down production is an almost if we really saw it we still wouldn't believe it Philip K. Dick future fable of the marriage of humanity and technology and the overriding, nuanced elements of man vs machine that looks to divorce us from the modern and make tradition our first love mistress. Reducing ourselves to one-third of our size and living in a Polly Pocket community would reduce waste and our environmental footprint, but what about the depth it would tread in our pockets? You take a reduction and your bonus is exactly that. Your money stretches longer and you live like kings if you believe the crumbs the man talking to you sitting on your cookie box is offering. Want a mansion? Make yourself at home! The finest threads? So long as you don't mind an extra, extra small. The coolest car? Well...I'm afraid this is a solar powered environmentally friendly bubble you're living in after all. And don't even think about that bottle of vodka. Well now we've sized all that up are you big enough to go small? Let's go further down the rabbit hole.

'Leisureland's' latest inhabitant Matt Damon isn't even half the man he used to be. But in 'Downsizing' he hasn't gone this bald and bold with his identity since his body of work showed it had the metal of the sci-fi hit 'Elysium'. The former and still Jason 'Bourne' actor may have switched trading hands for a comfortable sweater and slacks but once movies most marketable actor can still lead a smaller crowd to the big stage. His characters even against all the rising and falling odds of their flaws and forlorn factors are still funny, forthright and once more these things with feeling. And here there's no change to the psychology of this man despite the physical. Although he does handle all the problems with turning into a human insect (buying your lady a bunch of flowers this valentines would certainly be one petal) like no shrinking violet. And in catching the complexity of irreversibly changing (or reducing) your life for better or worse he tugs on more than our heart strings, whilst tickling our funny bones with the biggest feather in the marrow of some of this movies lighter moments going against the grain of the hiding in illumination darkness of this leisure center for those who want a bugs life. I mean have you ever seen the 'Good Will' of this Boston boy when he's had a few brews? You'll like those apples. Getting to the core of Alexander Payne's pain and love piece we see something that ignorance can't hide behind the idyllic, just like George Clooney's 'Descendant' trouble in a Hawaiian paradise. A lifestyle piece that asks us more than, "is less more"? Especially when something that we appear to be doing for the good of humanity is more like a selfish pursuit of happiness that still has purity, but is distilled like that said bottle of vodka. As the 'About Schmidt' and 'Nebraska' director makes a mark we can all drink too.

An all-star who's who of Academy actors all sign up for this 'Downsizing' project. There's the 'Bridesmaid' funny turned 'Walter Mitty' offbeat serious Kristen Wiig...who will really need one here shaving her head so she doesn't wake up from the shrinking process looking like Cousin It. But she really rises to the occasion here. Just like scene stealer in hilarious and heartwarming equal measure Hong Chau. A star of the future and the here and now previously seen in the weird and wonderful, hallucinogenic trip of Joker to be Joaquin Phoenix's 'Inherent Vice'. The rest of the big screen, little people consist of some of today's biggest stars in some smaller than cameo roles you may forget about tomorrow there's so many of them. There's the hilarious Jason Sudeikis convincing us all to come down to his level via a Christmas cracker megaphone. Or how about another hilarious player Neil Patrick Harris showing off his doll house and how he met 'Jurassic Park' and 'Star Wars' star Laura Dern and got her to bathe in diamonds and pearls? Even James Van Der Beek is here to show us 'Dawsons Creek' was a long time ago even if that meme wasn't. But there's nothing like a pair of ageing, European playboys. And after starring in over 200 films, good German Udo Kier gives us the one here. Whilst a great one of Tarantino 'Django' and 'Inglorious' fame Christophe Waltz seems to be having the time of his life here in little land, letting his hair down and grow long. And there's nothing reassuringly funnier to wake up to then his morning after grin. There's so much at play here from hilarious visual gags for the magnify glass eye to see, to some social satire for the haves and the have nots put under the microscope. Sure you might get short with this big pictures reach by the end, but 'Downsizing' isn't just an opportunity for some CGI experimental fun. It's also the chance to effect change not in a scientific way, but a social one that shows there's more to life than living large if it leaves you with no room to grow. There's something much bigger going on here...if only we could see it. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Further Filming: 'Suburbicon', 'Ant-Man', 'The Incredible Shrinking Man'.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

REVIEW: THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI

5/5

Missouri Tiger.

115 Mins. Starring: Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, John Hawkes, Caleb Landry Jones, Lucas Hedges, Zeljko Ivanek, Clarke Peters, Abbie Cornish & Peter Dinklage. Director: Martin McDonagh.

First Billboard: "Raped Whilst Dying". Beyond brutal, but by jove is 'Billboards' brilliant. 'Fargo's' Frances McDormand is a molotov cocktail of a force amongst a farce in 'In Bruges' and 'Seven Psychopaths' director Martin McDonagh's 'Three Billboards'. A modern masterpiece of the year that is as oddly hilarious as it is assumingly heartbreaking. Such is the ebb and flow of this charred black comedy and dynamite drama spark is going to leave as many people wanting to visit Ebbing, Missouri as McDonagh did Belgium's Bruges. And just like that offbeat, outstanding shot of isolated but inspired dark dramedy that saw Colin Farrell's forlorn, suicidal hitman gain peculiarly both our sympathy and praise. This billboard puncuated picture is chock full of characters with as many heavens gate saving graces as they have hell to pay flaws they fall through again and again like that old, creaking floorboard you should always have repaired, if not fixed to step over. But frankly not Frances. McDormand is dormant in that department. Alive despite being soul broken dead inside following the evil assault and death of her daughter. She ties her hair up as folically far as it will go north, pulls on some blue overalls all the way to her collar and crack of a new dawn gets to work on finding the man who murdered her baby girl. And seeing as Ebbing, Missouri's local police department would rather investigate a case of Krispy Kreme's than a young woman's ravaged rape, torture and murder, she more than sprinkles them with some truth. She pepper sprays them in a way none of their coffees with extra sugar could wake them. Firebrand papering some previous derelict pop art torn billboards of various commercials past with a scarlet letter so rage raw red it engulfs all blue and white police cruisers that patrol past like the very sirens they should be putting on. Just give the Cohen 'Raising Arizona', 'Burn After Reading' and 'Hail Caesar' triple crown actress the Academy Award already. Even if Oscar queen Meryl Streep is about to 'Post' her latest ballot and next, best actress of the moment Jessica Chastain has given a big-three of her best last year all worthy of a nomination ('The Zookeepers Wife', 'Miss Sloane' and 'Molly's Game'). As McDormand and McDonagh (reuniting with almost as many 'Seven Psychopath' players (Harrelson, Rockwell, Ivanek and Cornish)) give us an instant classic that will legacy last beyond any award season for their billboard moment.

Second Billboard: "And Still No Arrests"? And whose fault is that? Well according to the police report, Chief Woody and his partner so buzzed he's lightyears away from that detective detail he craves as much as the heroes in his comics he'd love to be if only he could get his feet off the desk and his badge pinned on his shirt properly. Or as they more commonly go by in the Hollywood industry Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell. Two former platinum character actors turned leading men with definitive distinction. Who despite the character problems here in the middle may act like they might actually come good when it comes to a different sort of Academy. And boy do they have the best lines here to deliver this. 'Cheers' Norm familiar face Woody may have shown us that 'White Men Can't Jump' whilst earning his jersey name in the franchise likes of the sequel leaden 'Hunger Games' and 'Now You See Me' magic series'. But here yet again this 'Natural Born Killer' shows us he is a 'True Detective', whether 'Triple 9' call or 'Rampart' corruption. Even balding under the 'No Country For Old Men' cameo stetson that had you moving your feet, Woody still balls like Billy Hoyle. It's not a case of 'The People vs Larry Flynt' but the billboards versus Chief Willoughby. And after proving he was the best human actor alongside Andy Serkis' motion captured white dots to the 'War For The Planet Of The Apes' conclusion to Ceasar's trilogy, cut-throat razor shaving his dome, Woody is a cut above all that here in his sharpest slice yet. But just wait until 'Psychopath' Rockwell rocks too, shooting for the moon and whoever's willing to stand up to him and call him a racist pig like we all see it. How the man who can play both slick ('Iron Man 2') and sick ('The Green Mile') can mine likes out of such a morally abhorrent character is unbelievably almost akin to how some of these f### boys can do so on social media. But despite the douches and fake celebrities that bag up the real world, this here is a testament to this great actors real reputation for versatility that he has hard worked earned in a Hollywood that needs its sleeves rolled all the way up. Still, no one plays disgustingly distinguished quite like this big I am Sam. And if he doesn't get at least a nomination for his repugnant cop you can only hope sees redemption policing, than the Academy needs to look past the crass character and view the class act behind those red and dead eye hiding aviators.

Third Billboard: "How Come Chief Willoughy"? That's what everyone is picket punching asking by the sign in this role call, All-Star cast of role playing character actors on their collective career highs. As Martin makes his mark by bringing the best and worst out of everyone in this harrowing yet heartfelt, guffawed but grotesque picture of duality...as such is life. What more can you expect when the skinny on 'Winter's Bone' standout John Hawkes who is practically in every other film you've ever seen (don't believe us trapse Wikipedia) is at his best and worst here as an ex, expected to be atypical, but with some other reaffirming traits too. Then there's 'Manchester By The Sea' supporting player Lucas Hedges who never got the same from the Academy like Affleck, but hopefully will with 'Lady Bird' or with a stones throw here. The kids the future like former 'First Class', X-Men academy actor Caleb Landry Jones who owned his moments in last years horror favourite 'Get Out' and Tom Cruise 'American Made' movie, but is close to his own one now after never being better than right here, right now. Then there's 'X-Men: Apocalypse' and of course 'In Bruges' actor Zeljko Ivanek known for 'Damages' and 'Madame Secretary', showing great and recognisable character, copping a duty behind the desk. With new, smooth rolling detective in town Clarke Peters bringing his 'Person Of Interest' and 'The Wire' credits behind his badge, along with the velvet voice to rival Morgan Freeman's beautiful baritone. Even Bradley Cooper's 'Limitless' love interest and co-star Abbie Cornish is here to show the cast is exactly that like the Australian actresses accented range. And how about Mr. Lannister himself? As 'Game Of Thrones' standout Peter Dinklage may look like a mix of his characters from 'Elf' and 'X-Men: Days Of Future' past here, but he really brings some of the best and brightest moments too in a dinner date and drink after worth of screen time. There really is so much going on here in McDonagh's movie that will leave you crying with laughter and horror. But in a contrasting, heads and tails movie there is one fact that leaves no sides for debate. This leaves everything else out right now outside. Aside from a C.G.I. deer that still makes for a dearly beautiful scene this thing is flawless. And has the most beautiful use of the "C U Next Tuesday" word this side of the blades of Margot Robbie's 'I, Tonya' glory. 'Three Billboards Outside, Ebbing Missouri'...now that's a lot to read. Especially over three advertising hoardings. But by the 'Moonlight' of mid-February in 'La La Land' you'll be damn sure it'll be wrote in an envelope sealed, 'Best Picture'. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Further Filming: 'Fargo', 'In Bruges', 'Rampart'.