Wednesday, 29 November 2017

REVIEW: BATTLE OF THE SEXES

4/5

Crazy, Stupid, LOVE.

121 Mins. Starring: Emma Stone, Steve Carell, Sarah Silverman, Andrea Riseborough, Elisabeth Shue, Austin Stowell, Natalie Morales, Eric Christian Olsen, Alan Cumming & Bill Pullman. Directors: Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris.

Oscar season and the aces that hope to aim high are officially in full swing with this court of cinematic service. And what better way to honour seventies superstar Billie Jean King aside from Barack Obama's Presidential Medal Of Freedom than with this big picture, 'Battle Of The Sexes'? The tennis legend and amazing activist who vollyed and lobbied for gender and LGBT equality and in one fateful exhibition game and rewrote sports and social history. All on a grass court that helped pave the way for women in the workplace everywhere. Like a suffergete campaigning for a fair days equal pay in an increasingly insufferable chauvastic world. To todays entertainment universe where Hollywood is still influenced by indignant inequality and now is even exposed to the rampant misogny, sexual harassment and even rape that has plagued this now uninspired industry for only just spoke up about now decades. Stepping out of the Academy Award acclaimed dancing shoes of 'La La Land', 'Best Actress' Emma Stone (an aiding activist and role model to todays young women like fellow 'Help' co-breakout star, Jessica Chastain) slips on a pair of Adidas Presley Blue suede shoes and toes the baseline of center court, giving Jean King her accented acting queen. And from the trademark mannerisms to the memerizing transformation it's an all-encompassing embodiement on the blade-tip ice-rink scale of former Harley Quinn, Margot Robbie in Netflix's forthcoming 'I Tonya' Harding biopic. A spectacle even behind those instantly recognisable gold bifocals that are looking to frame Oscars, Stone faces 'Crazy, Stupid Love' co-star Steve Carell on the other side of the net for this let for service. The man who since that Gosling love story has swan-changed from an 'Office' comedian of 'Anchorman' foolhardy lamplight proportions to a 'Little Miss Sunshine', 'Foxcatcher' and 'Big Short' (also with Ryan) serious Academy actor. And like the Sony Classic sports drama caught straight from the foxhole, this traditional texture, modern day homage to history is seventies soaked all the way down to the old Fox Searchlight retro intro. Proving to be game, set and match to this years fellow doubles, decades done, sports match movie of the high-strung, but deucing 'Borg vs McEnroe'. As this is the Wimbledon of tennis movies.

And new balls plese because from the holy trinity of 'Field Of Dreams', 'The Blind Side' and 'Glory Road', not to mention the champ 'Ali' this is one of the greatest sporting movies with more of a story behind it of all-time. Ready to see even more love this February than a point advantage. And serving against a still seventies sexist world Emma Stone proves like she shouldnt have to that she belongs in this Fred Perry fashioned world like a Billie Jean so good M.J. probably was really singing about her. And in this Billie vs Bobby, the coralled Carell rigs up Bobby Riggs with physical and psychological impression, no imperfection. Stating that he wants to put the show back in chauvanism, you'll detest this despicable he for it, but that's just the sign of a great actor as he really does put on an all out show. As Stone with granite cutting grit and 'City Of Stars' grace (how about a victory walk corridor scene with shuffling frilled shirts that seems like a call back opposite to the soup stained, rejected walk of shame from an early 'La La Land' casting call?) subtely shines and rises above a male idiotic ideal that women are loved "in the kitchen and in the bedroom'. Showing that she'll be screwed around by nobody. She cooks with her racquet, not a pan. Even if Carell's character wants to fool around with a frying one, sugar-cane or sheep as he dresses up mockingly as Little Bo Peep for the most egotistical exhibitionism for this exhibition game Steve plays up with puerile perfection. But whilst the middle of the road game of this middle-age waning star looks to eat off the thin promise of 15 minutes of fame, young, prime, rising Stone's hard king has the thick skin to withstand all of this and let her game do the talking that writes cheques, not history and feeds more inspiration for history than fleeting fame of the moment. In this back and forth Carell's hustler knows how to pluck a buck as even the sound of his about to be rubbed together, clapping hands sounds like he's just hit a backhand. But oh how Emma's forever icon knows how to return, her retort being the people she raises not the trophy. Whilst Carell's Bobby thinks trophies are the bikini clad beauties that laugh nervously whilst he jokes they'll be washing his dishes after a photo op. But we all know who really cleans up as all bets are off for the woman who not only brings long overdue and much needed equality to gender politics, but the love of the sexes too. When Billie met Bobby makes for Academy actors Emma Stone and Steve Carell's greatest game in this movie match. But we all know who the real winner is.

And the mixed doubles of 'Little Miss Sunshine' directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris who brought the love life out of the 'Ruby Sparks' book not only come back together with Carell in this game of reunions, but also bring a full court of impressive talent. Controversial but compelling comedian Sarah Silverman continues polishing her acting resume. But unlike the fun 'Wreck It Ralph' and 'A Million Ways To Die In The West' movies that play to her hilarious strengths, 'Sexes' shows just how really good she is going to acting battle. Not even hiding behind those Tiffany Breakfast sunglasses when you really believe it's her, smoking those cigarettes that sponser the sport in satirical irony. Whilst 'Birdman', 'Oblivion' and 'The Rise Of Stalin' rising star Andrea Riseborough is a cut above the rest as Billie Jeans hairdresser, who is much more than a salon stop in a moving moment of hair and beauty. As this actress shows she is as creatively chameleonic as a new do and makeover. 'Cocktail' actress Elisabeth Shue is also here to show she's more than a 80's hairspray and diamond dress trophy wife. Whilst 'Bridge Of Spies' and 'Whiplash' standout Austin Stowell plays a magazine pin-up husband with a heart of gold most would dream of having in a locket. 'Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps' recognisable face Natalie Morales plays another top womens tennis player in King's corner, who also in an ABC play-by-play with a legendary news anchors palm patronisingly on her shoulder shows subtely just how sickening sexism can be even when men think they're reaching at exactly the opposite. Another recognisable face Eric Christian Olsen coaches Carell in a way that wants to mentor the real meaning of sport that does not sort through the money. But its the biggest names that pay off here. The theatrical, nightcrawling Vegas Cabaret star Alan Cumming is fantastic as a fashion designer, letting the stars stand out behind the sequins and seams. Whilst Presidential Bill Pullman is the great equalizer here playing the real villain here with scotch scoffing, bewildered boy behaviour. And to think this was the man that inspired the world against an alien invasion. We thought he was about independence?! But we know one woman who is. Standing up for everybody's individuality. Man, woman and whom ever you choose to love. Because there's more to this 'Battle Of Sexes', than man vs woman on a need to be even, level playing field. There's more to break here than a simple serve. And after this yearning year this fall favourite is a refreshing break like a bottle of orange cordial courtside. Something that plays hard to entertain on screen, but works even harder behind the scenes to educate. 'Battle Of The Sexes' takes on discrimination in all forms and serves for equality. Advantage...everybody! TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Further Filming: 'Borg vs McEnroe', 'Crazy, Stupid Love', 'Foxcatcher'.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

REVIEW: DADDYS HOME 2

3/5

A Bad Dads Christmas.

100 Mins. Starring: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Linda Cardellini, John Lithgow, Mel Gibson & John Cena. Director: Sean Anders.

This candy cane season the dads are back in town and driving home for Christmas. And for 'Daddys Home 2' there's even more parents to meet as we ask "whose your grandaddy"?! 'The Other Guys' Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg reunite for a third time for their middle-age, middling 'Step Brothers' like family farce. But when it comes to these other dads this festive season, in a Christmas vacation that tangles more slapstick in the Christmas lights than Chevy Chase's 'National Lampoon' you may aswell call this one 'Stepfathers'. Those 'Bad Moms' may be having their own grandmother Christmas right now with some mothers that I beg your pardon, frankly are even more hotter than they are, but this 'Daddys Home 2' for the holidays is the funniest bromance between the tinsle since Seth Rogen, Joesph Gordon-Levitt and Anthony Mackie partied 'The Night Before'. Adding more nutcracking punch to the egg nog, you're favourite yuletide man-child 'Elf' is back for something you shouldn't leave on the living room shelf. Even if those who left his other craps comedy with Amy Poehler on the snake eyes table this summer didn't realise (like admittedly this writer until an in-flight movie last week) that 'The House' actually wins as a classic feral Ferrell comedy. Your local 'Anchorman' has still got it like the whales vagina even if the Magnum mustache maverick has swapped the Burgundy new suits for some comfortable slacks and an ugly Xmas sweater. And now bringing out the even funnier side of his guy, the all-action, transforming muscle of Mark Wahlberg like that fuzzy friend of a Boston bear, the pair cop another classic to pop under the tree.

Just watch out...it may fall on you. As this time the co-parents of an on formidable form Ferrell slapping the stick and a wowing Wahlberg with the best lines here delivered with punch have more to worry about than car sharing and setting a five dollar limit on what each other is wrapping up when it comes to presents for this December 25th day. These two daddies have their pops popping over for a visit this fall and its not all mince pies and mistletoe as there are more stars here in this 'guess whose coming for turkey dinner' than on top of the tree. And just when Wahlberg and the oven mitt boxing, snowflake punch throwing Ferrell had their friendly chemistry set too. Looks like 'E.R.' star Linda Cardellini will be nursing a few mulled wines to get over this one as the good mother between it all who threatens to steal this snow show. Ferrell's father time comes in the form of crowning legend John Lithgow, playing it light again with the craziest comedy poking innuendo at family this side of the '3rd Rock From The Sun'. In funny face form he's barely been to the red sweater letter better and he and Ferrell in physical and improv routine comedy actually relate and feel like a father/son combo playing it all perfectly. After all it doesn't get much closer than locking lips. Dear John pulls a cracker playing a motor mouth conversationalist of a parent. Mark on the other hand would love to get a word in edge ways with his granite tough love father. Played with puncuation for letters by Wahlberg twenty years from now, no longer  'Expendable' legend Mel Gibson. The redemption, renaissance man back in public favour after directing the multiple Oscar nominated (for him too), war torn 'Hacksaw Ridge' with Andrew Garfield, this Mad Mel is a real lethal weapon here. Blowing snow and showing there's a funny side to his serious streak. Gibson plays it like a guitar gunning rock star here as this roses ageing 90's great shows he still is one. Even if he does offend everyone this side of Bethlehem.

Now the only thing that could possibly put the flaming smackdown on this Fantastic Fouresome itself is a former pro wrestler. And following his classic credits cameo in the first film John Cena shows us the real daddy is home. Off the ropes and rails and bringing us as many laughs at a locomotive pace as his 'Trainwreck' sexy time with queen of comedy, the stand-up Amy Schumer. As everyone and all are one upping each other and the sophomore slump like returning director Sean Anders did with the superb 'Horrible Bosses 2' in this nativity scene. Even truly going away in a manger in a shepard beard beating set-piece that almost rocks the baby Jesus. All softening down into a ice-cold snowball fight before anyone gets too offended that shows us that even after his best basketball in 'Semi-Pro', the All Star Will Ferrell can pump fake as well as he can throw a punch, or basketball to a L.A. Lakers cheerleader. But amazingly like 'Love Me Sexy', shows in concert that he has the voice of an angel...well one with broken wings anyway. That's the kind of schtick thats in this Ferrell and McKay produced playbook as everything from social screening satire at school plays and post-thanksgiving bird clipping will grab you by the giblets. But anytime the physical comedy flogs too many dead horses some of the best one-liners come marching in like the saints. And anytime they fall flatter than Snowmen on New Years day there are some heartbreaking and healing moments by the fire to warm you like John Hughes used to, 30 years later to the anniversary of Steve Martin and the Candyman's 'Planes Trains and Automobiles' for this Christmas time road trip. This chestnut roasts like open fire, leaving anyone who calls it a turkey...done! TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Further Filming: 'The Other Guys', 'Step Brothers', 'The House'.

Sunday, 26 November 2017

REVIEW: THE PUNISHER Season 1

4/5

The Winter Soldier.

13 Episodes. Starring: Jon Bernthal, Ben Barnes, Amber Rose Revah, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Jaime Ray Newman, Daniel Webber, Michael Nathanson, Jason R. Moore, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Paul Schulze & Deborah Ann Woll. Creator: Steve Lightfoot.

One batch! War Machine. The Winter Soldier. Cross Bones with the skull. Call Netflix's New York anti-hero assassin 'The Punisher' all the Marvel monkiers you want, but in this graphic comic book, noir novel ultraviolence there's a beating heart behind that bulletproof vest. As to be Frank 'The Walking Dead's' Jon Bernthal is the king of Castle. Sorry Thomas Jane and Dolph. And we didn't make it to the opening batch of credits in episode one before this leather and lead character made this our new favourite binge-watched Marvel/Netflix show. Sorry Red! And to think you gave this murderer half a series Murdock. But now the scales of criminal justice lean to the punishment of the death penalty. And Bernthal's Frank Castle with the burner executes it all sniper-precision perfectly. He's surgical with this. Just like he is in Marlon methodological acting form-no Joker, Jared Leto bullets in the mail with Deadshot Will Smith's name on it disrespectful bull####-as meticulous as his mark cleaning and reloading his pistol like he was taking care of an old dog. With some new tricks up his sleeve too, Jon is the don as Frank Castle's Punisher in perfect preperation for pain. This is the same man who every day at the crack of dawn walked across the February freezing, Brooklyn Bridge to the 'Daredevil' set with a backpack weighing him down along with passerby comments warning him to not "f### this up". The same 'Fury' of a tank war torn soldier who wasn't able to see his newborn son whilst filming David Ayer's battle bloody epic alongside Brad Pitt until his kid was eight months old...talk about the haunting yearning for family. Hey this was the only wolf of Leonardo DiCaprio's who could sell you that damn pen. Supply and demand...BOOM! And after the maverick magazine of his definitive 'Daredevil' second season debut, Bernthal's Castle's Punisher widens the scope to a range that still hits from the King Kong aint got s### on him top of the Empire State Building, all the way to the street level, Marvel Netflix smartphone age streaming show. Continuing Marvel's cinematic magic on the smallest screen that still manages to pull even more tricks and weapons out the bag of 'Jessica Jones', 'Luke Cage', 'Iron Fist' and the devil of Hells Kitchen 'Defenders'. Following the kid Tom Holland's 'Spider-Man: Homecoming' to this universe in a scorching summer that started early with those 'Guardians Of The Galaxy' a-holes marching to 'Vol. 2' and still lasted through the Autumn/Fall of a fun 'Thor-Ragnarok' that continued the formidable force of a formula even 'Wonder Woman' couldn't quite lasso...(truth!). But this all-blackout Punisher like Fox's Wild West 'Logan' and the new years 'Black Panther' is a whole new animal before the real war of 'Infinity' begins. Now tell me this Friday would you rather join Batman and Superman's 'Justice League' or stay in and binge?

Two batch! But this time this one man, raw revenge ravaged, vigilante gun-show army does not go it alone. Even if a Marvel Asia, Far East trailer tease of him arming up with 'The Defenders' turned out to be empty shell casings. But here we are so entrenched with Castle-mania we don't mind if we don't see the lawyer in little boy pajamas with horns, the smart-mouthed, hot-shot private investigator, the man with unbreakable skin and the kid with the glowing fist at all. 'Hannibal' screenwriter and this showrunner Steven Lightfoot really has his fill...and boy does he eat. And at least he brings the journalistic integrity of 'True Blood'/'Daredevil' legal aid Deborah Ann Woll back to the table on fantastic form filling in for the first Netflix show the Night Nurse of Rosario Dawson doesn't patch up. Do you honestly think the Punisher's going to let anybody stitch him up? Besides everybody needs a best friend and pretty boy with scars, 'Dorian Gray' (spot the by the book Easter Egg) actor Ben Barnes is on brush stroke hand to put the puzzle pieces together and paint a perfect portrait, aswell as drop the Anvil. Cosying up to 'From Paris With Love' great cop Amber Rose Revah giving Simone Missick's Misty Knight a run for her legal strong-arm. Partnering up with 'The Knicks' oft-comical relief Michael Nathanson, with the mothering wisdom of 'The Promise's' Shohreh Aghdashloo watching over her here. The Micro chips of 'Girls' and 'The Lake House' actor Ebon Moss-Bachrach are also down as this tech survivalist crucified to a console plays a savvy spook who is haunted by the family he taps into and looks over on a screen but can't touch. Mothered by moving 'Eastwick' actress Jaime Ray Newman who is stay at home and alone with her agony whilst the Punisher plays pigskin catch, spiral throwing pops. Amazing australian actor Daniel Webber also boldly and brilliantly brings some down and out drama from under the skin of this skull bone to these storyline cartridges that intertwine with the influence of military and lost families and souls overseas or domestic. The war torn, shell shocked battle scars that we can't see on these young men that serve for their country and clearly visible to feel here. Especially in the best thing about this show apart from Frank in vet Jason R. Moore, running a Falcon grounding like support system group project that is more than just stacked chairs in a circle. There's a lot of heroes and fallen ones in this complex character study of the ultimate anti-hero that needs a real villain and has one in the vile eye of the recognisable face of T.V veteran Paul Schulze of 'Justice', 'Law & Order', 'NYPD Blue' 'CSI', 'Boston Legal', 'The West Wing', 'Suits', 'The Sopranos' and '24' fame. But for all those shows on the resume, Netflix and it's new different type of hero are saving how shows like this are run in streams.

Penny and dime! And you don't need a dozen reasons why plus a mixtape to reel to reel feel that these lucky 13 episodes available in a one shot instant breaks the recent Marvel/Netflix fatigue trend of too many episodes and too much exposition that even the eight wonder of 'The Defenders' didn't offend. Right from the black and chrome, instant classic, gun metal detail title sequence, scored by what on the matt-black surface sounds like the instrumental for a Cash and Cohen collabo. Right now this is the one to watch right away in full. Especially now you've finished watching 'Stranger Things 2', in addition to the week by week new 'Star Trek-Discovery' taking a Winter break hibernation hiatus and the falling 'House Of Cards' (with all due respect to First Lady Robin Wright's justified on screen turn) being something you shouldn't really watch justly anymore. Time for Spacey to see 'Orange Is The New Black'. Right from the Wolverine like trademark grunting and growling roar and first 'John Wick' sledgehammer to the concrete of a man with hipster hair and a lumberjack facial one working construction and just wanting to be left alone to his bricks and mortar. Following an oil drum burning of his white skull paint, bulletproof vest spraying signature past, buried like his family and their killers. The cement mixing beginning of looking out for the little guy sets in motion a behind the gun range of sub stories handily held and creative characters that exit as quickly as they enter. Focussing on news story at the moment topics like modern warfare (the 'Kandahar' catalystic episode playing out like a more serious Brad Pitt Netflix only 'War Machine' movie), domestic terroism, PTSD, military and police corruption and gun control. But if you nuts that think there's no bolts behind Castle's heavy metal Metallica just want a firefight, then just wait for the Pacino and De Niro heat that's coming towards the end of the line as the vets vest is velcro strapped back on for the last carousel ride of the night. And in this bullet train time, once Castle runs through these bad guys like moats you know it's not all water under a bridge. Bernthal, armed with not only an artillery arsenal and the Battle Van (and also a muscled up car chase chicken scene straight out the 'Bullitt homage screenplay playbook of 'Days Of Thunder' legend Tom Cruise's 'Jack Reacher') shows you the bruises behind the bullets that don't shatter the skin and in doing so he brute soulfully fleshes out this mere mortal mans character in a world full of enhanced superheroes like no other. After moonlighting as a bank robber who if you didn't see again would mean he was dead in this years best blockbuster 'Baby Driver' and in cameo form in Taylor Sheridan movies like 'Sicario' and 'Wind River' (not to mention banking in on a much more slick hitman assassin in Batman Ben Affleck's 'The Accountant'), 'The Peoples Champ' actor Jon Bernthal is back to make those accountable for their actions attainable. Raging with a real devil red anger only suppressed by silencing those with their finger on the trigger, Bern brings a sense of righteousness to his kill that could even floor Captain America and his all-American stars and stripes code. This buck is the real Winter Soldier with termination on this judgement day. Now we can only hope there is a second batch to this gunpowder plot for this war journal and it's Jon's raw and real compelling storytelling. As this one and done is a whiskey straight shooting, no blank, click-clack classic. BANG! Now reload. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Further Filming: 'Daredevil (Season 2)', 'The Punisher: War Zone', 'Captain America-The Winter Soldier'.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

REVIEW: MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS

3.5/5

Dial P For Poirot.

114 Mins. Starring: Kenneth Branagh, Penelope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Daisy Ridley, Josh Gad, Derek Jacobi, Leslie Odom Jr., Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Olivia Colman, Michelle Pfeiffer, Judi Dench & Johnny Depp. Director: Kenneth Branagh.

To this day the writing of Agatha Christie DBE is just as legendary as Sir Ian Fleming or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's. Even if the Miss Marple creators lead detective Hercule Poirot is just a whisker away from the deerstalker and magnify glass of Sherlock Holmes, or secret agent with a license to kill and thrill, 007; James Bond. And this railroad trip on this most lavish line is by far and a train journey away her most prestigious piece of prose. There's been a 'Murder On The Orient Express'. And there's only one mustache that can solve it. We know the weapon in this game of Cluedo, we just need to know if it was the governess, the doctor, the maid, or even gangster with the dagger and in which compartment of the train was the deed done? Carriage by carriage each passenger is in a marriage together that they want to divorce themselves from. Everyone here is a suspect no matter where they point their fingers. And it's up to you the audience to figure out who before our esteemed lead does. Or if the very culprit themselves commits this type of carriage carnage again. In this race against time like running for the last train that's as heart-poundingly nerve-wracking and thrilling all at the same time. As this as outstanding as it is legendary train journey turns from fine dinner car dining and delightful desserts to an entree of violence. Best served revenge cold when the Orient becomes the polar express, when a visual trip through the snow softened mountains of Europe turns into a permanent postcard as this train derails in more ways than one before the real avalanche begins.

Murder was the case they gave that those without an accent call "Hercules". But whodunnit in this game of guess who? Lets take a look at the all-star cast of suspects. The professor? Played with precision frame perfection by the ever expressive as the lines in his face Willem Dafoe. Testing out his European accent before the sun of 'The Florida Project' and quite possibly the brightest spot of his career comes out. The missionary? Played with grace and dignity by international actress of acclaim Penelope Cruz who has proved she can play just about everybody and anybody with classic conviction, but never this subtely subdued. The governess? As 'Star Wars' Rey, Daisy Ridley blooms in this Scott Free epic and shows she is an awakening force of maturity and solidarity before we really wonder who the hell she is in this Decembers 'Last Jedi'. The assistant? Where 'Frozen's' Josh Gad really brings more chills to this tundra case as put this next to his partnership with Chadwick Boseman's 'Marshall' and you can see just how good an actor Gad is when he lets go of the Disney day job fun. Or even the butler? Played with stellar service from Great Brit and national treasure Derek Jacobi who from stage to screen has been in more legendary theatre than his movie legacy cares to give credit where due. Or did death make an appointment with the doctor? The only man who would know how to get away with such a crime so quietly a inconspicuously. As Leslie Odom Jr. (no relation to Lakers legend Lamar Odom), the breakout Broadway star of 'Hamilton' puts on one hell of a show. How about the salesman? The automobile man with a flair of put on for showroom charm? As after joining Denzel Washington's 'Mag 7', Manuel Garcia-Rulfo is truly magnificent here. Or maybe it was the maid? As this shy and retiring type cast for Olivia Colman of 'The Crown', 'The Lobster' and 'Broadchurch' fame seems to be hiding something more than her terrific talent of playing behind the notes but albeit at the same time as being in the forefront of this grand opera of murder.

Legends can deceive to...no matter how big their name. Like the 'mother!' of all ones in this industry Michelle Pfeiffer. The black widow here still Catwoman sleek and sneaky with a dangerous mind as after tormenting Jennifer Lawrence this Summer, this fall there's more than grace hiding behind those furs and pearls. Just like the princess. Or should we say the dame? As miss Judi Dench (or should we say Ma'am?) is on the money here like M as an American socialite sickingly insincere with a crown full of jewels. But our queen 'Mrs. Brown' who made us fall all head and heels in love again with her new boy in 'Victoria and Abdul' is really having another legacy making year for her unconquerable legend. And as devilishly funny as 'Philomena' asking about the "c" word amongst all the lost child haunting drama, you'll just love the amazing accent. Or speaking of accents maybe the murderer really was the gangster. As Johnny Depp takes off the 'Pirates' hat and peg-leg, rum stumbling British veneers and plays an American gangster that Ridley Scott would be proud of. All long leather trenchcoat, Ratchet walther, Dapper Dan hair slick and razor-thin moustache that cuts like one of his scars. The only thing Johnny's intimidating but inspired veneer is missing is a Tommy by his side as Depp's new depths guns for post roaring twenties, 1930's Goodfella glory. Just wait until this Pirate in 'Donnie Brasco' form unwraps a whole new 'Dark Universe' to become 'The Invisible Man'. Looks like the only one who can see the truth here is Poirot and with a maverick moustache of a top lip scarf, Kenneth Branagh is the best thing to happen to this story this Movember since Suchet. After his definitive role in 'Dunkirk' and his flair for the blockbuster big-screen direction in the avenging norse of 'Thor', Branagh goes hammer and nail with 'Ragnarok' in his best time in front of and behind the camera and crime yet. This double-act really is decadent in the stylised look of this classic and the modern day telling substance that lies beneath. He's funny, forthright and formidable in his quest for justice and peace. Or whatever comes first. A finale fitting usual suspects table read line-up has last supper imagery for someone who we suspect as having their last meal and his one-shot carriage to chamber walk around the crime scene unlocks even more than meets the cinematic clue discovering eye. This visionary and visceral tour on the Orient is the most thrilling trip on an old train since Robert Downey Jr.'s 'Sherlock Holmes' had a 'Game Of Shadows' and dress up with his dear Watson. Now as this railroad makes its final stop there will be tears as it departs once more like parted lovers running after the smoke. But still fear not for if you are still in Agatha denial Branagh has a river in Egypt to sell you. Until death does us part again...au revoir. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Further Filming: 'Murder On The Orient Express (1974)', 'Death On The Nile', 'Sherlock Holmes-A Game Of Shadows'.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

BOOK REVIEW: TOM HANKS-UNCOMMON TYPE

4/5

Hankswritten.

We don't deserve Tom Hanks...or at least Hollywood doesn't. In a once inspired industry (despite previous problems that still needed to be resolved), now well and truly corrupted by the cruel and callous behaviour of some of those in power who have harassed and abused for countless victims and decades. All until the rise of to the minute social media has given them nowhere to hide and those without one finally...a voice. Even when some of the biggest names in the business have been sullied, Tom Hanks remains a constant beacon of light and truth. The actors actor. The regular working mans Hollywood star. The Bruce Springsteen of movies. The Boss even gave him quite the Academy Award winning intro for his Oscar moment fighting injustice for the LGBT community decades before Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto's 'Dallas Buyers Club' did in 'Philadelphia'. Hanks has been doing this since the early eighties. Even years before this now 32 year old writer was born. And not to make anyone sound old but you know we've all grown up with him too. From the 'Turner and Hooch', 'Big' fun of the eighties, to the 'Captain Phillips' or 'Sully' saviours of the real world he plays tribute to these days.

Hanks has saved a private named Ryan, brought togther a band of brothers, taken on a ship hijacked by Somali pirates and survived and landed a plane in...no ON New York's Hudson River. He's survived on a desert island with nothing but a volleyball, told us life was like a box of chocolates and even caught Leonardo DiCaprio like no one else can. Not to mention he's played both Walt Disney and Pixar's next generation own cowboy with a snake in his boots, Woody. He's done it all and we haven't even mentioned the 'Apollo 13', 'Green Mile' and 'Bridge of Spies' best. Let alone the trilogy of Dan Brown works and partnership of Meg Ryan romantic comedies. Did you just miss the fact that this guys been to space? Is there anything he can't do. Well apparantly not. Because after directing and managing his own band, coaching a womens baseball team featuring Madonna and becoming C.G.I. for a yuletide trip on a train more lavish than the Orient Express every Christmas (not to mention bringing into this world an all acting and rapping lookalike son), Hanks senior has shown he can put pen to paper too. Or is that hands to paper roll and carriage and fingers to keys? As Tom releases his most personal project yet from the desk of his home study...'Uncommon Type'.

And bringing us the best of common people like you like he does in his movies with this pulp fiction, Hanks is just the type for this sort of side-project venture. Not a long-awaited, sought after autobiography which we will hope to amazingly read one day, 'Uncommon Type' is even better. A classic collection of seventeen sweet and at times soberingly somber short stories from the man who has played them all. And here he gives a voice to the rest too in this wide world of wonder. A man dating a younger, more active woman who completely turns his life around...whether he likes it or not. A father driving home for Christmas with more than egg nog, family and present anxiety on his mind. A young actress looking for her big break and her place in the city. A group of friends on an exhibition, trying to populate Mars like Matt Damon's 'Martian'. And a local bowling alley hero bigger than Lebowski amongst so many more weird and wonderful characters and the stories they share. Not to mention some old fashioned newspaper blurbs from 'The Burbs' actor in journalistic character going against the broadsheet beating social media type. These columns and chapters all share something in type too. Not only so they feature in some small or significant way a reference to the greatest tool between the ages of the pen and the laptop in the hallowed typwriter, they were all perfectly wrote on one too. As each story stars with a beautiful black and white portrait of a different type of this magical machine in all its mechanics matching the outstanding, orange Penguin jacket of this instant modern classic looking read. This isn't the Tom Hanks you know. But this is what the readers truly want. A different side of the Hollywood star. And hats off to all his quirky short stories and whimsical writing with so much soul. Ones that like his legacy lasting, legendary roles get to the heart of what's most important in this world, an individuals character. And in the world of entertainment no one has more than Tom. "Hankful". TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Friday, 3 November 2017

REVIEW: THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER

4/5

The Dear Hunter.

121 Mins. Starring: Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Barry Keoghan, Raffey Cassidy, Sunny Suljic, Bill Camp & Alicia Silverstone. Director: Yorgos Lanthimos.

Dear oh deer. It seems in today's world revenge is a dish brutally served colder than a operating table where someone now resting in peace used to lay in the clinical and calculated, captivating thriller and dark and disturbing pyschological horror of 'The Killing Of A Sacred Deer'. Vegans fear not. No deers where harmed in the making of this movie. Not even a Milwaukee Buck. But in this Cincinatti clinic some humans hurt some more in this hospital bedside, mild-manner that tries to examine the depth of the human condition under a microscope that just a regular X-ray just won't show in all it's gray matter. It looks like Irish actor Colin Farrell and director Yorgos Lanthimos really are each others 'Lobster' Phoebes. Because here this Doctor and director bring us a Greek like tragedy of unfathomable decision in the same tense and taught vein as the choice Meryl Streep had to make as 'Sophie'. And here after giving us a manufactured dating world, future fable and modern parable in the maddening oddity of the love in the face of boiling cauldron in 'The Lobster' (that really did display cruelty to animals...or was that humans?), they reunite as Farrell does with Australian Academy actress Nicole Kidman after Colin chose between here and the likes of Elle Fanning and Kirsten Dunst in 'Lost In Translation' director Sofia Coppola's classic remake of Clint Eastwood's act in 'The Beguiled' (coincidentally this is the first film this writer watched without a trailer tease since Colin and Nicole's last one and trust it from me it makes it all the more, fellow A24 picture 'Moonlight' like mesmerizing). But this time Farrell's decision making process is much more forlorn and born from love and not lust as all these perfect partnerships come together for a big-three picture. And one of epic, explosive nuclear family proportions matching those of the bible on your bedside table, as this raw wrath of revenge in bloodied surgical gloves really does go for the jugular of your every emotion and sense of being.

A movie of the year 'A Ghost Story' (also A24. A+ guys!) like, hauntingly beautiful operatic opening in blackness that seems to last for a whole aria (so much so that you may just leave your seat to tell the usher the screens on the fritz before this one reaches a standing ovation), cumilates into an out of nowhere surgeons eye-view of an open heart procedure that beats as yours palpitates. And from there you are as captivated as the stirring strings of this scintillating score to not look away for a second like your life, or the one of the one you loved depended on it. Now like too many cooks looking over a broth, we don't want to spoil the plot. But here's a little stock set-up. Colin's character is one of surgical precision like a sought after wrist watch with a metal strap thats water resistant at a depth more than 100 meters. Stay with us. Even if that's what his mind is on in time. This recovering alcoholic with a cider beard that is as the millennial girls say; "goals", has a case of malpractice on his hands after failing to save a patient whilst under the Jack and coke influence. Now despite looking out for the family his shaking hands tore apart, the son of the dearly departed wants more than a mentoring father figure even if that is his replacement ravaged goal for him and his widowed, weeping willow strong mother. Now in true old testament style this kid who barely looks like he has any hair on his arms (cue that deer hunting beard) blood-lust wants an eye for an eye. But he's never killed anyone before. But if you who know has I bet you can tell what's coming next? Or can you?! As plauged with the most purile and pathological problem a domestically disturbed husband and father could ever possibly have, Farrell is forced to perform a procedure so out of his power or even the heart of his bruised and battered (not to mention memory serves, alcohol soaked) soul to do so. And taking his own life by his own beautiful, surgical hands is so far from an option that it's not even considered. Yes this movie is insane on a maddening 'mother!' Jennifer Lawrence scale. Yes it is even crueller to boot. But his somehow beautifully bleak, weird wonder that's slashed lip kissing cousins with it's 'Lobster' pincer holder is gripping in its gravitas and its grounding, cut-throat nature with cold metal implementation.

Lanthimos has us from the "I'll explain this quickly" go before he takes his terrifyingly taught and twisted time with each turn of plot. In this harrowing hour by hour horror that haunts us like the open, one shot hospital corridor left and rights that show us how chillingly lonely this place and life really can be when your permanent residence ends up right here between the ice white changed sheets. Whether professional or personally in patient. Yorgos unamiously has us as the next, direct directing great of hidden meaning and destroying depths just like the arrival of the current best in the business in the form of the 'Enemy' and 'Prisoners' arresting Denis Villeneuve who has truly illuminated the mainstream with this years neon lights blockbuster best in the '2049' sequel of 'Blade Runner'. And here the closest thing to Kubrick today brings his favourite Irishman off the whiskey to show that the ever underrated Colin Farrell is ever one of the greats of our generation of acting. A far cry from the also android and sheep Phillip K. Dick rewrote 'Minority Report' and 'Total Recall' days of his electric dreams youth, Colin with this in collaboration with 'The Lobster' and 'The Beguiled' is at his bravest and best ever since he was 'In Bruges'. And for all the socially akward, clinical dialogue served in stunted monotone mannerisms for dramatic and nuclear home caustic effect in this distracted age, the weathered and worn character Colin Farrell brings to the forefront is the most evokingly effecting. Even with a fellow 'Beguiled' Nicole Kidman by his side. The 'Lion' Academy Award nominated actress who is about to be a Queen in the 'Aquaman' adaptation of the 'Justice League' has a career on cruise control right now in 2017. From the big screen to even the linings of the small one (see the smart phone screen standouts of native 'Top Of The Lake' and Renee Zellwegger's 'Big Little Lies' for truth proof), but here hauntingly heartfelt she's barely been better in this smaller but nore significant big picture. Mothering two children coupled together by madness in the stranger things happening to Natalie Dyer lookalike and 'Tomorrowland' actress Raffey Cassidy and new kid on the block for tomorrow Sunny Suljic, looking for a brighter day. But even though these kids are more than alright, it's 'Trespass Against Us' actor Barry Keoghan who really is grown as this fellow Irishmen goes from sharing an odd charm with Farrell to being his every nightmare in ways you wouldn't exepect at all. What starts as the most concerningly bizarre partnership turns into a thing thankfully a million miles from sexual, but intead something that really does f### with you even more. If you felt sorry for this kid Barry in 'Dunkirk' then after this you won't anymore. But boy is this young man even bolder and better than he was in Nolan's war for the bringing of our boys from the beaches. Almost convincingly too good. Perfectly peculiar like a Dane DeHaan or Charlie Heaton second coming of strange. He show steals from a classic caliber cast that even features a brilliant Billy Camp (who recently has done the rounds over the years with the likes of 'Lawless', 'Public Enemies', 'Black Mass', '12 Years A Slave', 'Loving', 'Midnight Special' et al) and 'Clueless' actress Alicia Silverstone bordering on 'Bates Motel' like motherhood stuck in one cameoing housebound, homecooked dinner and a movie scene that really does feel like 'Groundhog Day', but aren't you glad you visited again? But as this film finally comes round to a day by day, waking hour, sleepless night awakening end, friends Farrell and Lanthimos make a deer rifle killing. In something sickeningly twisted but cinematically sacred. And what a cross to bear that is. What a choice it is in this life my dear. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Further Filming: 'The Lobster', 'The Beguiled', 'A Cure For Wellness'.

Saturday, 28 October 2017

REVIEW: THOR-RAGNAROK

4/5

Revengers Assemble.

130 Mins. Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Karl Urban, Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson, Idris Elba, Anthony Hopkins & Benedict Cumberbatch. Director: Taika Waititi.

SMASH! The god of Thunder tumbles through a helicarrier hangar with a big green blob of a blur bounding down with him and lands thump, flat face-down. He lifts his head up and wipes his nose. Remember what Mickey Rourke said about "if you can make God bleed" in 'Iron Man 2'. Holding his hand out for Mjolnir, Thor cracks a wicked smile. Strike one! 'Ragnarok' rocks and Thor's thunderously charming third time round is lucky for Marvel fans in a gaming mood for fun, frolicing escapism from another case of "Shakespeare in the park". Right before things get real dark as all the Avengers are taken to 'Infinity' next year. So before war and posted after the 'Civil' one that the two most powerful members of the team weren't even invited too (and to think they didn't even send a raven), it's time to dust off mothers drapes again. As the Asgardian God in warrior mode takes on that incredible green giant once again to show Iron Man and Captain America a real "work friends" feud and fight, no Hulk Buster suit required. If only he had a hammer. Following 'Spider-Man: Homecoming' keeping Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark webbed up, this is the ultimate team-up movie that rights be damned may aswell be called 'Thor vs Hulk' like one of those classic crossover comics. But these gods and monsters aren't the only superheroes to spar in this great cape escape as stranger things are happening here like logging on to your Netflix to binge stream the upside down right now. After 'Murder On The Orient Express' conductor and Poirot mustache himself Kenneth Branagh killed it with the first 'Thor' movie that set the God of mischief Loki villainy under Thanos for the first 'Avengers' assemble, 'Thrones' director Aaron Taylor brought a game of realms to 'The Dark World' sequel. But now New Zealand, 'What We Do In The Shadows' and 'The Hunt For The Wilderpeople' director Taika Waititi makes this trilogy conclusion worth the wait as this Kiwi gives the Aussie Chris Hemsworth from down under his best comedy chops since he stole the show in the new female 'Ghostbuster' franchise last summer. And the funniest fun exchange with Mark Ruffalo's Bruce Banner since they made a stop at New York's Grand Central Station and punched more than a ticket. An Australian dressed like something out or norse mythology and another one twice the size ripping through even big and tall shirts but keeping his purple pants on? You have to laugh as this can't be serious. Besides when it comes to Thor and his new sidekick a little bit bigger than a sidecar you wouldn't like this if he was angry.

Locks chopped and hammers nailed Thor is still worthy of these realms, even if it isn't Mjolnir time anymore. As the head of the Hemsworth house continues to plant his family trees Hollywood roots more than a Skarsgard. Even without Stellan...or Natalie Portman's Jane Foster for that Thor matter (and don't get us started on 'Broke Girl' Kat Dennings or the 'Blindspot' of Jaimie Alexander). The hunk next to the Hulk still bringing that very, very frightening thunderbolt of lightning like Galileo, no matter who wants to dirty his blonde mane. Hesmworth has the strong arms and the comedy ribs like his 'Huntsmen' weapons and proton packs, making this truly a rush. Colouring the most vibrant Thor movie and possibly the most entertaining Marvel cinematic universe one this side of the 'Guardians Of The Galaxy' yet like 70's retro Pink Floyd's and Zeppelin's. Adding an even bigger shade of green to this superhero supernova spectrum. And we aren't talking about the coat of his bawdy brother in arms. Even though the terrific Tom Hiddleston is back as the manifest his own luck Loki, after "dying" so emotionally in the last movie which this one delightfully ruins in more ways than one. The devil may care, God of trickery is up to the games his reputation proceeds him for, but the hilarious and heartwarming Hiddleston makes sure it never gets old. Always adoptingly familiar to family as these squabbling siblings make for some great back and forth with the equal heart and hilarity of Hemsworth. And just like in 'The Dark World' when they're not trading blows or banter ones this duo that is more dynamite than dynamic makes for a great one, two punch of action. That is until we meet the ham farm fists of fury of Hulk's real "frenemy" in the man made monster he's fought more times than the Chitauri or an Ultron drone. That's right The Incredible Hulk is back and this time the Gamma rays are on full as he's smashing everything in the Gladiator arena like Waititi was trying to remake and take it all the way to 'Planet Hulk' (and check out his more than a cameo, scene stealing character of comic genius we wont spoil but just rocks). We may never get a Hulk solo movie, but after Eric Bana and Edward Norton made Marvel green in other ways, the envy of them Mark Ruffalo is an incredible mean, green machine. By far the best Bruce Banner since Bill Bigsby truly made Hulk sad in that sweet and sincere seventies show that until now was the only thing that got this goliath giant right. And with more Lou Ferrigno growling dialogue and a new trimmed and beaded look that's all "Hulk Fleek", Ruffalo does more than ruffle a few feathers as Loki isn't the only one he uses like Thor's hammer.

Now no spoiler, this doesn't happen but wouldn't this be the perfect post credits scene to set you up for next years 'Infinity War'? Hulk and Thor are recovering from whatever happens at the end of this movie when out of nowhere Iron Man lands down in trademark fashion. And as they look in surprise his visor flips up and Tony Stark tells them he needs their help. He needs his team back. Looking a little like "didn't you get my e-mail", Thor replies "you and whose army"? To were on que, out of the shadows comes the bearded Nomad of Captain America. OOH! Right? That would be the best fake post credits scene since that kid came up with that Stark Tower Spider-Man window cleaning one for the 'Age Of Ultron'. But you know these days as you wait around twice whilst all the ushers pick up all the rubbish all you see is another Captain Rogers P.S.A. telling you offer them a helping hand. You'll just have to wait for the 'Black Panther', or settle for a classic cameo here even better than the traditional Stan Lee one. Because in this epic ensemble the only things missing here is a 'Team Thor' roommate Darryl cameo. And why wait for war or remain civil when you can watch the Revengers assemble? As 'Creed' fighter straight outta 'Westworld' Tess Thompson, playing the M.C.U.'s first LBGT character as the Valkyrie is valiant and show stealing like her boxing beau Michael B. Jordan looks to be next year with panther power. Besides the God of Thunder, his frosty brother and even the Hulk will need all the help they can get against another green familiar foe in the form of Hela the Goddess of death. Played hellishly perfectly by Academy actress Cate Blanchett. Here mixing her 'Lord Of The Rings' days with some Loki like reindeer games and the bald bones of a machine gun totting destroyer, Karl Urban by her rebellious servant like side. This queen isn't the only evil threatening Thor's kingdom of realms. As an always delightful Jeff Goldblum brings his trademark off-script flash as the Grandmaster and an outfit that looks like it could have been his own (after his recent glitter turtle neck under a suit, chat show look saw him off-topic offer everyone lozenges between regailed stories of nose trimming techniques that only he could make fascinating. Like him backing up soul sensation Gregory Porter on piano (just Youtube "Grahama Norton: Jeff Goldblum"...oh you're so welcome)). The brother of Benicio Del Toro's crafty collector creating this Contest Of Champions like your favourite Marvel mobile game and even having an off-screen 'Jurassic Park' reunion of sorts before the 'Independence Day' resurgent star joins Chris Pratt's Star-Lord for the 'Fallen Kingdom' of a whole new 'Jurassic World' next year. There's even more here on offer in Marvel's most epic and legendary all-star cast yet by the eye of iconic Anthony Hopkins' fatherly fond Odin and of course an inspired Idris Elba's gatekeeper gone dreadlock rogue. Sword fighting back after critics left the two gun slinging barrels of his 'Dark Tower' empty. And what would all these strange days be without an appointment with you're local New York, Greenwich village Doctor off Bleeker Street like 'Sherlock's' Baker Street? As 'Doctor Strange' post-credit and trailer teased Benedict Cumberbatch's uncredited cameo would have worked better as a surprise, but is still one of the funniest things in this film full of fancy fantasy and fun. Taika could have made this tacky, but instead out of the 'Wilderpeople' shadows he remakes this all his own. And what a Marvel it is as nothing is 'Thor-mulaic' in the comics corralled culture that keeps reprinting like the Daily Bugle. If more of the anti-D.C. movies are going to take themselves this seriously than forget about 'Infinity War'. We want 'Thor 4'! ANOTHEEEER!!! TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Further Filming: 'Thor', 'The Incredible Hulk', 'Avengers Assemble'.