Saturday, 22 July 2017
Keep Calm And Soldier On.
106 Mins. Starring: Fionn Whitehead, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance, James D'Arcy, Harry Styles & Kenneth Branagh. Director: Christopher Nolan.
Churchill chugging on a peace sign, 'V' for victory cigar up in the heavens, looking down at the beach like a fleet of Spitfires would be proud of this one. Intelligence tells us this is the best of British battling for our beaches and boys. Bringing home to them in three acts over a week, day and hour. Air, land and sea. 'Dunkirk' from legendary 'Dark Knight' trilogy and 'Interstellar' director Christopher Nolan is a momentous memento of a tribute to all the brave men and women who gave their lives so the brave men who gave their lives for them could come home. 400,000 of them to be exact, in need of evacuation from the beaches of the tiny French town of Dunkirk. Nazi blited by Hitler's regime in the second World War in 1940. Home may almost be visible just across the Channel, but it may aswell be a million miles and vessels away. And as we are taken back to this bruised and battered beach, there is a stark, striking contrast to the cruel chaos and carnage that began Steven Speilberg's 'Saving Private Ryan'. But like that Tom Hanks classic this calculated and sobering, powerfully moving and painfully poignant film is one of the greatest war movies of all-time. From 'The Great Escape' to 'The Thin Red Line' and 'Apocalypse Now' to 'Full Metal Jacket'. And to think we've just had Mel Gibson's 'Hacksaw Ridge'. But this is Nolan's epic of epics, set to classic composing collaborating master Hans Zimmer's subtle but simmering score of ticking time bomb, vice tension. And to think their last movie was the out of this universe 'Interstellar'. But these true event, plane, boat and boot intertwining stories of victory in survival go far beyond the cape crusades and cult creations that have birthed a battalion of 'Nolanites'. This is more. This is real. This is life. This is war. And this is how we learn from our heroes of history for a better day and way today.
Firepower aplenty fuels Nolan's modern masterpiece of decades gone. In heavyweight form of some of the biggest names in the business. 'B.F.G.' and 'Bridge Of Spies' Oscar winner Mark Rylance is on reliable form as a strongheld seaman and father of two sincere sons who go beyond the mariner call of duty, as these weekend sailors act like the bloody Merchant Navy, tug-boating across the Channel. Picking up a ship-wrecked soldier lost at sea. He played by Cillian Murphy. The ever versatile and underrated actor of our generation giving us one of his greatest yet. Straight into the heart and soul of our nervous system as a shell shocked soldier, searing and seething with a confused and displaced, warning rage. Fellow 'Peaky Blinders' and Nolan's 'Inception' and 'Dark Knight' trilogy star (the 'Rise' to his 'Begins') Tom Hardy is onboard too. Flying above the beach in a stirring Spitfire for some awe-inducing, bullet blistering, aerial richoceting assualts that climb in IMAX depth sky scrapes. Bane muffled by a mask for yet more plane crashing and in cockpit stasis for most of his situated screen time, Hardy still does more than make this all look easy. As the modern Brando of our times shines with one of his best performances of bravado. And certainly his best one in a sole, seated position since we where locked in to his motorway race against father time in 'Locke'. The dual 'Legend' does more on his own, bum in seat then most critics sat on their arse would give care to give credit for. But we know real fight when it pulls no punches. Even 'Hamlet' legend and director of 'Thor' Kenneth Branagh is on hand with a commanding performance with 'Agent Carter' and 'Master And Commander' star James D'Arcy on his colonel counsel side confidently and sublimely. Branagh here a formidable figure of a man with the aged lines on his face that lead us to a veteran who has seen the weathered and worn wrinkles of war all too many times.
But even his character admits that war can be characterized by old men sending young men to battle...and possibly even their graves. And this film is choked full of young newcoming actors of potential all earning their salt before their time, soaked in the bitter brine of kids forced to become men before their God given right to. Take this for example. The star power doesn't stop with the leading men who's who of the British Isles. The biggest star on screen here is barely in his twenties and before this has hardly acted a day in his life. But everyone knows One Direction leading man Harry Styles. And this new direction may have been met with equal parts confusion and scorn but old Harry shows us so much more. Styles has substance and boy can he act. Nolan already compared his casting to the controversy of his one of the late, great Heath Ledger. And although this kids no Joker he won't need anyone else coming to his defence now like the first time you saw that 'Dark Knight' anarchy clown paint. Now we could see the millon dollar musican and Mick lookalike having the swagger to play Jagger. The kids a rolling stone, only naysayers are gathering moss now. But despite the presence of the lead singer of the biggest boy band since even The Beatles (if you can call them that) and the next academy of amazing actors with the honor roll of Tom Glynn-Carney, Jack Lowden and a heartbreakingly good Barry Keoghan's roles, there is one soldier who truly leads this march. And the Clint Eastwood son looking (Hey 'Fury's' Scott!) Fionn Whitehead is the right young man at the head of this moving movie, epic event. The fantastic Fionn shows wisdom beyond his years in both his manner and mannerisms. Behind his eyes lie the soul of a young man who understands that if it wasn't for soldiers his age a lifetime ago he may not even be here or at least speaking the Queens. Showing despaired hope and fearful courage under fire, Fionn gives us more than educational understanding. This is an acting masterclass. And that's the point here in a war film that can be watched by 12 year olds...as long as they are accompanied by an adult. Minus the 'Saving Private Ryan' blood patterns, Christopher Nolan aims for this movie to be shown in schools. All so kids of tomorrow can see just how far the ones of yesterday went to survive terror in a world currently still raw and rife with it like never before. And now even those around the world who only see the 'Inglorious Basterds' stylised side of war can witness the smaller scale stories of substance and triumph and the grand gestures of those everyman that joined the frontlines to bring our own home to their families. It doesn't get much more inspirational than that in a time where we need that influence more than ever. Just like in an army, no man here is bigger than the crew as a whole unit. Even in an acting infantry that includes Rylance and Hardy. And another absolute Great British legend. Because if you wondered why you were watching a Chris Nolan film with no one whose name is Michael Caine, then a classic communications cameo may make you think differently if you listen carefully. No matter who is in this movie, it's all for the real world men of honor who gave their lives. All these actors are for all the lessons learned in modern times from the warfare seen before. Even without Tarantino blood, Nolan has the guts to show us just how harrowing and haunting war is. From being gunned down in the streets to under a ships hull being used as pop shot, target practice. The 'Das Boot' drowning dark depths of a torpedoed boat or ejection failed Spitfire also show us the claustraphobic nature of being lost at sea and war. As war birds gliding into the ocean lightly and landing seemingly delicately like paper planes, mask the heavy darkness that lies below on impact. Dialogue may be sparse too in this visionary spectacle but that's just the blunt way of showing you how traumatic the force of war really is. And what results isn't the best blockbuster of the Summer, but the first best picture of the year you could call Oscar. And it's all for the honour of those who went to war, who now rest and as their story is told finally find some more semblance of peace. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
See This If You Liked: 'Saving Private Ryan', 'Hacksaw Ridge', 'Inception'.
Tuesday, 18 July 2017
Lust In Translation.
94 Mins. Starring: Colin Farrell, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning, Oona Laurence & Nicole Kidman. Director: Sofia Coppola.
Ladies man Colin Farrell has a way with women. In the past the Irish actor has been romantically linked with everyone from Angelina Jolie to Britney Spears. And lets not forget the Playboy models. But no more. When it comes to this movie, this time the fairer sex are having their wicked way with him. And how devilishly good it is. Farrell playing a forlorn and near mortally wounded soldier is nursed back to health by a seminary of students in a school for women. Talk about putting a fox in a hen house. He can't believe his luck. But it's not a lady tonight, as one boys fantasy is another mans nightmare. This Romeo surrounded by Juliet's should have really read how all that Shakespeare played out. It's 1864. And in unfair Virginia is where we lay our battle born scene. In the midst of the ragingly real Civil War and not the one Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. came to blows over, this gothic romance takes place. As muted cannons fire in the background of the depths of the forest, not as film fodder but subtle symbolism evoking the ringing out nature of chimes of time that have nothing to do with freedom. From Francis Ford daughter and 'The Godfather Part III' teen star, better known as 'The Virgin Suicides' and 'Lost In Translation' director Sofia Coppolla comes 'The Beguiled'. A remake of the 1971 Clint Eastwood classic, itself an adaptation of Thomas P Cullinan's novel from over a half century ago. After going by 'The Bling Ring' book boldly with 'Harry Potter' star Emma Watson (before she was the Belle of the 'Beauty and the Beast' ball) and reuniting with legend Bill Murray after their iconic Japanese love story (like we just wish he did with Scarlet Johansson after their Tokyo trip) for Netflix's 'A Murray Christmas', Sofia chooses to flip gender politics on their ignoramus head with what translates as her best picture since she was lost in unidentifiable neon. It charmed in Cannes to the tune of standing ovations and the Academy might hear all that applause come next Valentines weekend. Because this scarlet love letter to melodramatic frills of fancy speckled with blood shows no mercy to even a mercenary. Man you're going to truly feel what it's like for these women.
Southern hospitality is in need of an actual hospital stay. Forget the courtsey. As this 'Get Out' level genre crushing, thriller drama of 2017 brings the Kathy Bates 'Misery' to what you thought was just another case of Mr. Darcy. Quite not right indeed. Because this isn't Colin Firth. This is Colin Farrell we are talking about here ladies and gentelmen. Smooth as negligee silk this is not. This outfit is laced with lust for the flesh, jealousy and a fate worse than death and it doesn't leave the house in a stage worthy of all the players. By the time the best dress turns into a nightgown you'll have no idea what's about to go down. This slow burner drips like midnight melted candlewax down the back of your spine. Beware of the heat though. Have care as Coppola cranks this pressure cooker up to a melting pot of haunting hormones and repressed desires that ravish like the beauty that lies behind unspoken gestures and sighs that really scream it all from the balcony rooftops. As Farrell tends to the ladies garden and they look after him this whose-done-do-it affair never lets up like the fire of ignited passion. Even the light relief of an innuendo filled squabble over the crust of an apple pie and who baked it could leave you with more than cheeks a shade this side of pink lady, as this like many dinner time discussions could turn rotten at any moment. Can you tell them to pass the salt? And that's the core of this very plot as these little women grow up and apart before our eyes and before their minds ever realize to see it's happening. Now how dya like them apples? As Sofia goes big with her seventh seal in the bullhorn speakers chair. A Coppola hasn't been this scary good with the American Gothic since Bram Stoker's 'Dracula'.
And getting his teeth into this one Colin Farrell is fantastic as a wolf who can huff and puff all he likes but will never blow this house down. Because this animal is surrounded by lions not lambs. Turning the male predatory gaze in on itself, this reflection of the war between man and women and lust over love bumps in the night like the paint cracks in the portrait of Dorian Gray. And no matter what tries to tear him down the ever leading Hollywood actor and critically underrated thespian Colin Farrell is formidable in a commanding role of caustic charm. Showing the inner turmoil conflict like his guilt ridden 'In Bruges' hitman. Or the whiskey soaked, drowning despair of the father to the woman who made Mary Poppins in 'Saving Mr. Banks'. Not to mention the isolated loneliness of his work-alone cop in 'True Detective'. For a movie about the choice between love and death with themes and metaphors that still snip at today like 'The Lobster'. But after he's rescued by a mushroom picking Oona Laurence in a breakout star making role Farrell discovers more than what meets his wandering gaze. As he eyes a palace of a house, turned womens retreat with all the men at war. At the not so welcome mat there Colin finds Australian actress Nicole Kidman at the head of this household. And the Academy Award nominated icon continues to roar after 'Lion' nearly clawed an Oscar, with another beast of a performance that seemingly society construct cowers beneath regal grace. As Coppola reunties with her 'Mary Antoinette' too we see the best we've seen from Kirsten Dunst since she was submerged in a wedding dress for 'Melancholia'. Here playing another character sheltered in shy sadness as she wishes she could be someones runaway bride and leave the menial tasked, mental prison of a place she calls home behind. But working with Sofia for the first time since she was 14, it's next superstar to be, great actress of the moment Elle Fanning who steals the show, like she looks to steal the hearts of men with a model performance. Shining like 'The Neon Demon' illuminating rise, with all the beauty and the ugly truths that lie within. As jealousy and the fire of desire collide, body and soul, blood sweat and tears the only thing she doesn't divide is critics. And are we all in agreement that this is filmmaking at its finest no matter what we take from it? As isn't diverging opinions on what this is all about what makes these most talked about films the word on everybodies lips from the tips of their tongues. There's lessons of the heart to be learned here from another amazing adaptation at the same time as the breakthrough 'The Handmaids Tale' series. This motion picture is saying the same thing as those Handmaids, albeit in a different shade of red. And also that sometimes in love and in war there really are no true nature villains, just victims of circumstance and their extenuating effects. But as this weaving heart string plot is pulled corset taught, you can cut the sexual tension with a fixed bayonet. And just as you though this compelling piece of cinema was passing at a pleasant 'Pride and Prejudice' place, problems and peril ensue from help to cries for it. Coppola copps another classic whilst Colin catches hell. To be 'Beguiled' is defined by a certain enchanting ideal. And without deception this is that and truly the charm. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
See This If You Liked: 'The Beguiled (1971)', 'Lost In Translation', 'My Cousin Rachel'.
Tuesday, 11 July 2017
140 Mins. Starring: Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Amiah Miller, Judy Greer & Steve Zahn. Director: Matt Reeves.
Caesar, Serkis together...strong! Damn this dirty ape is hella good. So good in fact Andy Serkis deserves a statue of Academy gold with white spots dotted on it for his work behind the green screens. An Oscar for his Caesar. The 'Kong' and Gollum star of 'The Lord Of The Rings' is motion-pictures motion capture king. And with the Serkis back in town, Andy picks and sifts through each thread of this digital make-up as meticulously as a chimp does another apes hair. If you think anyone can just monkey around with this then you're wrong, because this is Serkis' business. It's a wonder why they didn't pick up this 'King Kong' Empire State star for 'Skull Island' this year, because this is this apes planet. We're just living in his new age, digitised world. Which will see yet another 'Jungle Book' reimagining, back to Rudyard's bare necessities and even a real-life, actual face to face role in Marvel's 'Black Panther' next year. But when it comes to this 'Planet Of The Apes', from the Golden Gate Bridge set-piece, to all the ones they've obliterated in arms this could even go to war with Charlton Heston's 'Battle', no Wahlberg astronaut. There is only one primate thumping his chest. Even if in each film of this future franchise the supporting actor has changed. From James Franco's fine performance in 'Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes'. To Jason Clarke's class act alongside a war weary Gary Oldham in 'Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes'. But this time with no real good guys on the human side its the turn of an 'Apocalypse Now' bald Woody Harrelson as a general who seems to be shaving his head with a cut-throat razor and menace throughout the entirety of this film. Because the real unchanged and untamed hero here is Serkis' Caesar. As returning director linked with Ben Affleck's 'The Batman', Matt Reeves continues his rise with the greatest trilogy since 'The Dark Knight' one. When it comes to bleak, post-Apocalyptic future fables that deal with problems of tomorrow today, no one goes as back to black as Matt. These apes were howling...now with a snarl they're growling.
Now the only thing missing in this Vancouver snowscaped tundra of turmoil is the Statue of Liberty's head in the sand. But with Reeves this is as real world and as raw as it gets. You won't believe this is green screen. Seriously! Ask 'why so' and we'll answer with, 'two monkeys get into a bath. One cries, "ooh, ahh ohh". So the other replies, "pour some cold in"'! You see that was a gag. But this is no joke. And with Serkis' act expect the same. Because this actor doesn't just play Caesar...he is Caesar like "et tu". He brings life and humanity to this animal, taking this primate to its prime. Sure prancing around in a Go Pro get-up with no C.G. for the eyes may elicit mirth, but in actual (virtual) reality this is no laughing matter. When it comes to mastering every nuance and emotion, no matter the mammal, Serkis is a beast. And if that's the kind of creature he is then Woody is a monster. As this cowboy has more than a snake in his army boots. More like a stick up his military minded ass for anyone who goes bananas at the sight of a low hanging tree. A fatigued soldier in combat gear that matches the old Carhartt look of Charlton's apes. With a WW2 beret and "naplam in the morning" aviators. Not to mention the cut-throat Sweeney Todd accessory and instrument he uses to orchestrate his army. Woody Harrelson has the iron-will here to be part of the brass but the 'Cheers', 'White Men Can't Jump', 'Natural Born Killers' and 'True Detective' decorated actors character is missing a purple heart...or even a beating one. As his contradictory "sometimes the only way to save our humanity is to abandon humanity" trailer only (seriously what is with this in movies?! Enough already!) speech doesn't rouse much confidence. But speaks volumes of the conflicting nature of this man vs monkey movie like his talk of mercy.
Bathing in apes this movie is drenched in drama. Like an epic early scene in the rain thar sees Serkis' creature creation climbing up the ropes of an abseiling from a helicopter Harrelson in harness. As he tries to machine gun the monkey to his abyss with a illuminating emerald, rifle scope, laser pointer. The glimpse of Ceasar's biting teeth and piercing eyes through a shimmer of green light in this thunderous night shows not only how incredible this set-piece is, but how detailed it is in it's digital effects that are still so groundbreaking. No matter how much they are taken for granted today. It's a visionary look that is evoked throughout the whole film. From an escaped "Bad Ape" hermit with a heart played lovingly and a relief lighter by Steve Zahn. In a class cast from 'Jurassic World's Judy Greer, to a scene stealing Amiah Miller in a non-verbal introduction that is anything but muted. To a "Donkey Kong" gorilla gone rogue whose layered, devoid of any telling emotion, gone look at his fellow apes who he's turned against being gunned down is either one of pacify or deep seated regret. It's master digital mo-cap strokes like this that are C.G.I's greatest look at expressionism. Showing like the best Hollywood movies of Academy there's more than meets the eye of this that transcends plain, old acting. In a 'Transformers: Last Night' hatchet job of summer season corn poppers, this last stand is more than a blockbuster or monster movie. It's a monolith set in the Canadian mountains that can rock anybody or thing to it's core. Whether it's a fast and furious 'Baby Driver'. To a galaxy of super-charged characters like 'Wonder Woman' or Marvel's 'Homecoming' hero. As this Simian virus spread like a radioactive spiders bite gone nuclear. And to make matters better in this film that throws s### at everybody from the Donald administration, to those who think human life trumps the animal kingdom, no animals were harmed in the making of this movie. Or actors behinds sitting in make-up chairs all day...you know what we mean Tim Roth. It's all C.G. baby and beautifully rendered in ravishing quality for the IMAX big screen right before your 3D eyes. Making this human nature versus animal nurture picture as real a portrait as that actual issue of our place in an "all things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small" world still is today. And that's what makes this moviemaking more than the graphics and the actual content of this cinematic classic in a Serkis act were you can't see the strings (come on admit it, you keep forgetting that Ceasar is just a C.P.U. assist character don't you?). You've seen nothing like this big three and it's holy trinity conclusion. If only the lord of the motion capture films could give us a return of the king. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
See This If You Liked: 'Battle For The Planet Of The Apes', 'Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes', 'Kong: Skull Island'.
Wednesday, 5 July 2017
133 Mins. Starring: Tom Holland, Robert Downey Jr., Jon Favreau, Zendaya, Jacob Batalon, Laura Harrier, Tony Revolori, Kenneth Choi, Hannibal Buress, Donald Glover, Bokeem Woodbine, Logan Marshall-Green, Marisa Tomei , Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Connelly, Chris Evans & Michael Keaton. Director: Jon Watts.
Along came another Spider. Catch him if you can. Because Tom Holland may have been an incy wincy when Tobey Maguire climbed up the water spout and kissed M.J. upside down like he was hanging from below a basketball rim, but now this kid is going places. Now dig on this. Sure the cat Andrew Garfield was 'Amazing' as Spider-Man (and if you're annoyed by that just think of these reboots as different incarnations just like the comics), but this one is superior in it's Marvel 'Homecoming' by rights of a deal with Sony. It's the makings of an Amazing Fantasy we didn't think we'd see come true 'till at least the year 2099. Worlds changing boys! Time our friendly, neighbourhood Spider-Man changed too. And after making his Avenging, airport runway, 'Civil War' cameo debut (if you missed it there is a teen-fun selfie mode recap for you), stealing Captain America's shield and Empire Striking Back the Empire State Building tall Ant-Man, it's clear this kid from Queens destination is Holland. And now in great, young Brit Tom's New York 'Homecoming' the arachnid goes up against a famous avian superhero, taking wing again with some Iron will and Stark-tech, Under Armour like suit and tights. In a coming of age, web-shooting tale with even more shocks to the system from 'Cop Car' director Jon Watts bringing us New York's finest. And in this young Marvel origin story without Uncle Ben's rice, this John Hughes locker-room, 'Breakfast Club' portion of Peter Parker sees Spidey wanting to take the training wheels off his Iron Man suit. All whilst trying to stop a gang of vultures from stealing weapons from previous Avengers battles that stretch back to the Chitauri incident. Think of this as a full length version of the Lizzy Caplan 'Item 47' from the Marvel One-Shot short docket. And we thought the 'Defenders' cleared all that up. Time for some real 'Damage Control'. But in an 'Infinity' prelude year of 'Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2', 'Thor-Ragnarok' and of course 'Logan' and all the small-screen and Netflix heroes we could watch the kid Tom Holland spin the webs Marvel weaves forever. This spider could even take on all the Summers 'Kong', 'Ape' and 'Mummy' monsters. Let alone the amazement of D.C.'s amazon 'Wonder Woman' queen. Because not even a 'Fast and Furious', 'Baby Driver' could outrun the Marvel blockbuster machine when it comes to this time of year they own. There's no place like home. And there's no movie like 'Homecoming'.
Holland really is something as Marvel go dutch with Sony over Spidey. The young Tom thumb breakout star of 'The Impossible' doing as such really can do anything a spider can. This former West End 'Billy Elliot' stage-diving, back-flipping, acrobatic talent catches thieves just like flies. And we didn't even see him get bit. Still this dude is radioactive hot. In this Holland age, the Englishman in New York really masters the Queens American. What more could you expect from an accented performer who started his career with some car phone voice acting, locked in the cofides of Tom Hardy's fury road Motorway drama 'Locke'? And expect more Venom from the Bane voiced villain in the Sony speakers of the MCU soon. Just when you thought the sought after super power turned down Oscar Isaac's Apocalypse role in 'X-Men' to replace Hugh Jackman as Wolverine's Logan. But before this Marvel agent of change goes back to black, Holland shows us he's the real Spider no Miles Morales (unfortunatly). Mastering the two faced, shy and cocky dynamic of Peter Parker and Spider-Man like he wish he could his homework for his Spanish quiz. Or how he wishes to pass all his Stark Internship, Avengers assignments so he can join the team. As the closest he gets to suiting up with them here is a masked robbery scene at some ATM's as funny and groovy baby as that Mike Myers mask heist in 'Baby Driver'. If this doesn't get your spidey senses tingling then I don't know what will. Maybe Robert Downey? As the Iron legion of Jr. taking junior under his wing makes for an interesting controlling father/coming of age son family dynamic that even plays R.D.J's Iron Man character as a sort of psudo-villain and Stark contrast to the actual one. And with his towering tech theft being the issue here, this N.Y.C. film is as R.D.J. as the man who started this Avenger initiative to infinity back in '08. But even if this film looks like 'Iron Man 2' (and here's an Easter Egg for you, this Spider boy first appeared in the Marvel Cinematic Universe unofficially as a masked kid making a good job out of taking on Whiplash's iron drones at the Stark Expo in said movie) all the way down to the billboard poster it's not all about the billionaire, playboy, philantropist who has been crashing solo films since he picked a fight with Captain America in 'Civil War'. Even if the cocksure charisma machine has the best one liners in this movie or Stark moments in any Iron Man feature as he hugs it out with Tom, this isn't about Tony. This is as much about getting over the man as it is getting even with "dad". But this is not to take away from a responsible Robert, great guardian performance from Downey Jr., putting a new spin on the "power" speech. And even in going back to the outstanding outfit, ownership origins this Iron/Spider suit-up just fits like spandex.
Happy Hogan is back like Friday (or another Jarvis like, suit vocal assist here outfitted by actual wife of Vision, Paul Bettany (no not the Scarlet Witch), Ang-Lee's 'Hulk' star Jennifer Connelly...minus the body) to start the weekend feeling too, as speaking of 'Iron Man 2' former director Jon Favreau is still a Marvel and fan favourite. All the way down to his hilarious, extended previews in the Golden State Warriors/Cleveland Cavaliers NBA Finals promo crossovers featuring cameos from everyone from Laker legend Magic Johnson to Miami beach one DJ Khaled. And how about the great Gwyneth Paltrow's Pepper Potts sprinkling for another one? Just when you thought she and Stark were on a Ross and Rachael and just friends. This film is full of top 90's breakthrough talent, all the way down to Marisa Tomei's Aunt "Hottie" Mae showing mothers sisters come in all shapes and sizes you know. Her Miss Parker follows the mothering path that Sally Field nurtured and left in 'T.A.S.M.'. But it's the new school of kids that are the leaders of this Avenger academy. From best friend Ned, Jacob Batalan with no Osborne baggage and Goblin envy (just a cool Doctor Jones hat), to "M.J." like crush interest Laura Harrier. And then of course there's star of the moment with one name like Beyonce, Zendaya and the Flash of Tony Revolori, all Thompson, no ignorant racism. This is as high-school 'Confident' as the Demi Lovato backing beat. These kids are more than alright. And the diversity...beautiful. And even if they do get out of line commanding, howling, 'Wolf Of Wall Street' principal Kenneth Choi who presided over 'The People vs O.J. Simpson' will show them his authority like the hilarious Hannibal Buress in comic support. And then of course there's 'Atlanta', 'Martian', Childish Gambino. Better known as Donald Glover and soon to be a young Lando in the 'Han Solo', 'Star Wars' story. And many thought he was going to be another Spider-Man here too in the form of Miles Morales, who he has already played in an animated feature. But the Don, maverick multi-talent who is creating and voicing his own 'Deadpool' cartoon is actually another legendary Marvel comic character you might know as The Prowler. Who is closer to Miles than you think. Either way, showing up in an hilarious parking lot interrogation scene this dude is a real marvel. And this all-star cast has it all. Right down to the Stanley cameo. Even the skinny kid from Brooklyn with a P.S.A. But the real super power here belongs to the Vulture villain, modern-day tech upgrade update in airman American Eagle feathered leather. Played by a legend no stranger to capes. Especially avain ones taking flight (see the Easter Egg on the dark side of the moon?). The superhero spotlight is back on original Batman (after West, Rest In Peace), Michael Keaton, who sent himself and the tights genre up in the Oscar winning 'Birdman', playing father to Gwen Stacy's own Emma Stone. But here is an unexpected virtue as an Academy actor not ignorant to the comic cinematic crossover he helped found. Armed with two dual Shocker gauntlets carried by the brilliant Bokeem Woodbine and the Hardy lookalike Logan Marshall-Green of 'Prometheus' prequel fame, no relation to Venom...or the Wolverine, Keaton is the best thing about this movie not named Tony or Tom. Or the broken wings finale. Soaring after an elevating and monumental set-piece moment in D.C. (Washington). Full of heart and paying soulful homage to both Andrew Garfield's Gwen Stacy and Tobey Maguire's M.J. And the Staten Island Ferry splitting catalyst that divides Iron and Spider-Man like Manhattan and Brooklyn. But the bird is still the word as you really will need two of the worlds most famous heroes to deal with this sky-high threat. But we think Parker without Tony could take on the sand and the electricity of the rest of the Sinister Six all on his own. Thanks to director Jon Watts turning it up a notch...and then some. He could even have it out with Doc Oc, Kraven the Hunter or the fish-bowl head of Mysterio. And don't get us started with the comic Carnage of Oscorp or giant lizards in Kingpin's New York. Here's one house spider you won't want to hit with a rolled up copy of todays Daily Bugle. Damn Holland is just that good! And you'll be glad Tom has the great responsibility for all this super great power. Underoos is undeniable as Spider-Man's ultimate. Now that's really amazing! TIM DAVID HARVEY.
See This If You Liked: 'Captain America: Civil War', 'The Amazing Spider-Man', 'Spider-Man 2'.
Saturday, 1 July 2017
He Against The World.
140 Mins. Starring: Demetrius Shipp Jr., Kat Graham, Lauren Cohan, Hill Harper, Cory Hardrict, Jamal Woolard, & Danai Gurira. Director: Benny Boom.
What do you know about Pac's life? Well according to this not much, as everybody needs to chill. All piercing pupils are on this biopic of the late, legendary, legacy making rapper Tupac Shakur, 'All Eyez On Me'. 2Pac renowned as the greatest rapper of all-time. At least the most important and poetic with his meaningful messages that still transcend the tests of time today. Two decades of influence since his still unsolved homicide on the Las Vegas strip of all places. Critics are calling this bio a Wikipedia run through. Close friend of Tupac, Jada Pinkett Smith is calling this cinematic story out on Twitter as not "standing as truth" to her "precious" relationship with Pac, adding that the reimagining is "deeply hurtful" despite beautiful performances from the spirited leads. And although 'All Eyez' looks at everything on him, this visonary groundbreaking genius deserves more focus on him in this movie from legendary, sought after rap music video director Benny Boom. Ever since the loose biographies before them of the respective Eminem and 50 Cent starred '8 Mile' (inspired) and 'Get Rich Or Die Trying' (not so much) there has been a new trend of films about some of raps most notorious figures. Especially since two Cali summers back when the N.W.A. movie came 'Straight Outta Compton' like a crazy mother named Ice Cube.
"Caaaalifoooorniaaa loooooove"! The minute that iconic Zapp vocoder comes into play you know it's on. And the second that Los Angeles to Oakland anthem came straight onto 'Compton' you knew you were about to see something special on Death Row. And right then when you saw him in a haze of smoke in Dr. Dre's recording booth you almost thought it was him. The man himself. Tupac Shakur. That's just how much concrete convincing young actor Marcc Rose was the spitting image of Pac as he spit bars in the vocal booth. And 'All Eyez On Me' has done it again. Bringing a man that looks so much like Tupac too you would think it was the same actor from 'Compton'. We knew Pac got around but this is crazy. It almost gives more creedence of belief to those conspiracy, 'Elvis aint dead' like rumors of Makaveli's demise and Christ like figure return. But talent of the future Demetrius Shipp Jr. was a lot closer ro Shakur than you think. His pops senior worked with 2Pac A.K.A. Makaveli on 'The Seven Day Theory's' 'Toss It Up', so you have to give it up. More so and much respect for the fact that Junior embodies a full grown Pac body and soul. Striking right to the heartz of man with this ghetto gospel even if this movie is more a posthumous Pac put together record, than a real life '2Pacalypse Now' classic. Shipp helps this weighed down light, sinking one set sail. Inking his knowledge of Shakur and self as an a tor capturing his subject all the way down to the inked veins of his 'Thug Life' ("The.Hate.You.Give.Little.Infants.F###s.Everybody") tats. From the shaved dome to the nose bling, Demetrius doesn't just look like 2Pac, in this movie he is 2Pac. From the bouncing stage presence to the iconic voice that sounds more fondly familiar the more animated it gets. Some album and picture recreations like the last shot on the strip are so eerily uncanny it's as weird as it is some kind of wonderful. So much so you almost want to scream a warning at the screen as Shipp changes from his orange Vegas casino shirt to a stripped down, bottle green, Nike Basketball vest. Demetrius doesn't just outfit the clothes though...he makes the man. More than a fan. And that's the sign of a timeless actor. A star is born from one that will never die.
All eyes are on the rest of the cast too. Especially two blood bonded 'Vampire Diaries' actresses adding to Pac's book of life and rhymes. Lauren Cohan collaborates as the young actor and poets mentor, but it is Kat Graham who shines as Jada Pinkett, Pac's young teenage love and friend. Even the jaded by this picture, real actress knows Kat gave it her all and appreciates that. Like we all should the woman behind the man, baring so much soul from the rapper. Meanwhile 'Concussion' actor and author Hill Harper gets into the penitentiary and attempts to get into the imprisoned mind of a locked down Pac as a magazine journalist who fancies his warbrobe like civil rights leader Malcom X. Offering Pac truth to power and reason to his rhymes. Serving as unoffical narrator to this picture portrait quite perfectly. Whilst Cory Hardrict puncuates his play as a substance and significance aggravated man, who has been threatening to bite peoples noses off since 'Gran Torino'. And although from Shipp lookalike Rose, to Corey Hawkins' Dre and LaKeith Stanfield's stunning Snoop alike (here filled in by someone who either sounds exactly like the Dogg, or is lip syncing as much as the raps here to a guest spot from the Doggfather rapper) there are no actors brought in from 'Straight Outta Compton', 'Notorious' actor Jamal Woolard A.K.A. rapper Gravy has the juice reprising his role as Biggie. And he really is Notorious as B.I.G. going from playing alongside a cameoing, Marvel Avenging Falcon Anthony Mackie (who has played 2Pac twice on broadway and in some ways deserves his moment to own it) to playing the background with his larger than life figure perfectly. But if Oscar is watching anyone it will be 'The Walking Dead' actress Danai Gurira as the dearly departed 'Dear Mama' of Tupac, Afeni Shakur. Almost Academy worthy, if not for a lack of more screen time or a better script as she shows unconditional love and the pride that comes from real and raw panther power. Can U C? From 'The Rose That Grew From Concrete' poetic beginnings to all the artistic justice that bloomed since, Benny lowers the boom on it all. The 'Juice' of movies with Janet Jackson or ones that went 'Above The Rim'. The Digital Underground start up to the Death Row empire that saw him double up and release album after album that would carry on seven sealed times over and counting since his tragic death. It's all here, but despite a definitive Demetrius there's still something missing here like in rap itself today. Some may that that's a better movie, but really it's the man himself. Because after all no matter how hard you try you can never imitate what's truly real. The life of an outlaw who against all odds lives and dies in L.A. until the end of time. Open your eyez. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
See This If You Liked: 'Straight Outta Compton', 'Notorious', 'Juice'.
Wednesday, 28 June 2017
The Fault In Our Cars.
113 Mins. Starring: Ansel Elgort, Lily James, Jon Hamm, Jon Bernthal, Eiza Gonzalez, Sky Ferreira, Flea, Jamie Foxx & Kevin Spacey. Director: Edgar Wright.
Tinnitus may be this kids problem, but humdrum this is anything but. As baby, baby, 'Baby Driver' sees Ansel Elgort playing escort for crime in the City of ATLiens. But this time 'The Fault In Our Stars' leading man is the real star here, no shotgun ride. Even with big names like Foxx and Jon (Hamm and Bernthal) buckling in passenger and the legend Kevin Spacey himself stacking this house of con cards. And it's all topped off by ice cream in the Summer cool, 'Cornetto Trilogy' director Edgar Wright. The Great Brit behind 'Shaun Of The Dead', 'Hot Fuzz', 'The Worlds End' and half of Marvel's 'Ant-Man'. 'Baby Driver' has so much fast and furious fuel under the hood as this modern 'Italian Job' like drive will have you in 60 seconds as it blows more than the bloody doors off. And on a 'Divergent' path from his teeny bopping beginnings, tuned into a moms soundtrack slicker than a 'Guardians' volume, Ansel like a speed demon is gone in less than a minute from the fuzz, as he hot wheels his wired getaway car through all sorts of chicanes like Hollywood's best stunt driver. Pulling the handbreak for the best twist and turn through a narrow one way street you've ever seen between Steve McQueen's 'Bullitt' and the 'French Connection'. Flooring it and us with his pedal to the metal, the only thing stopping this young, charismatic Prince Charming from putting his foot down in his carriage is a glass slipper 'Cinderella'. Ba da bing. Va va voom baby!
Wright has picked the right man for the job in Ansel. 'Transformer's', 'The Mummy', 'Wonder Woman', 'Baywatch', 'Pirates Of The Caribbean', 'King Arthur', 'Alien', 'Guardians Of The Galaxy', 'The Fate Of The Furious'. Edgar and Elgort run everything else in this scorching summer season of big blockbusters off the road. And it's in it's own no sequel and reboot-less lane as the sole, pole original idea this year too. Sorry to rain on 'Spider-Man's' 'Homecoming' parade and the 'War For The Planet Of The Apes', but this s### is bananas without a code word. Just imagine how giant and epic Edgar would have made the astonishing 'Ant-Man' if his direction wasn't shrunk down to Marvel size. You'll have a need for speed no more as Wright takes you through more left turns and gear shifts in the A of Atlanta than a 'Midnight Club' ATL edition video game, with some stunt and camera work that will spike you to the cops come knocking. With some of the craziest worlds wildest police chases even Sheriff John Bunnell has ever seen. And even this veteran officer of the law would run out of one-liners for this burning rubber. 'Those police officers thought they could catch up with this kid...now the only thing this force will be copping is more paperwork than this student driver has homework'. Ansel could even make the Diesel of the Vin variety look unleaded in this race wars of 10 second cars, straight candy coloured out your cereal box. Track for track, whether tarmac or tape deck, spinning viynl or wheels of steel. This musical film from the gaming director of 'Scott Pilgrim vs The World' drowns everything else out to deaf. As no matter how much Baby Groot dances to those Galaxy volumes. This awesome mix of Queen, R.E.M. and The Commodores on the buds of this dudes iPod is 160gb classic. It's all the music you need folks. An iPod purists dream in a Spotify day. To think when this writer went to a New York Knicks game in The Garden last year the M.S.G booed this kid decked out in blue, white and orange when he appeared on the jumbotron like he was departed owner Phil Jackson...but you know what Madison Square Garden is like. Because I see no fault in this young star. Just imagine where this young, 23 year old, Hollywood hearthrob poster boy will be in 10 or 20 DiCaprio years. All set off from here, driving and dancing his way through this nitrus injection on full volume with the zest of a 25 or younger life as he looks after his Uncle Drew looking, lovable foster parent. Tapping his way thorough a one shot Georgia street like Gene Kelly going for coffee on a sunny day, with piano on his air playing mind like Ray Charles in shades that match the crooners. Shuffling his feet like a click wheel in perfect rhythm, like between clutch and break. This driver and his sat nav direction know how to choreograph freeway moves that will leave more cars gridlocked than the opening number of 'La La Land'.
Baby may be his cute name in this film that sounds like a Vin Diesel like 'Pacifier' school-run kids movie (but is about to become legendary), but babys B.A.B.Y. is none other than 'Cinderella' herself, Lily James. And going from 'Downtown Abbey' regalia, to the ball, to a classic American diner waitress uniform, Lily blooms at Jonath...we mean Deborah as the name tag tells us. Offering Baby another cup of Joe and that 'Thunder Road', Bruce Springsteen American dream of driving all night until they reach Atlantic City or a tenth avenue freeze out. But there's a lot standing in these baby's way. From Kevin Spacey's parking permit looking mob-boss Doc. Perscribing more highway to hell, no light at the end of the tunnel in site routes to his wheelman than 66. Or his A-list hired goons. A punishing Jon Bernthal decked out in 'Jersey Shore' douche-baggery bedazzled clothing, albeit armed with one of the best lines in the movie. Or serious funnyman Jamie Foxx's bat-s### crazy Bats character man. Another role that shows just how versatile and villanious this actor/singer and comedian can really get. And lets not forget our real Bonnie and Clyde for this Romeo and Juliet with a truly mad man in Jon Hamm and his 'Dusk Till Dawn' T.V. series girlfriend Eiza Gonzalez. Completing a cast so car-pool full there's even room for some more music on the car radio in the form of Sky Ferreira's motherly, Lionel Richie covering character that's easy like sunday morning. To back like 'The Big Lebowski' was yesterday, Red Hot Chilli Pepper crazy Flea with the itchingly good cameo. Lets hope crime capering isn't the only time Foxx and Flea collaborate down the bassline. Reel to reel this movie truly has it all for petrol tank and speaker box junkies...and even those who get their Mike Myers' confused. Like the opening car carnage set that will leave you in pieces. Or the rest of the movie that gives chase. As the needle drops for the record and the speedometer flickers to life for this Elgort vehicle, from empty to full you won't want this ride to let up. From driving under more trucks than Toretto's jacking gang, to parking lot space stealers that body more people than the bags in the trunk of Jamie Foxx's 'Sleepless' R.I.P. last call, fateful finale scene. Now stop, look, listen and don't let this get away as this driver really takes you places baby. I hope you're wearing your seatbelt. In Elgort's cool cruising days of thunder, these cannonball run bandits are smoking. What a rush baby! TIM DAVID HARVEY.
See This If You Liked: 'Drive', 'The Italian Job (2003)', 'Gone In 60 Seconds'.
Sunday, 25 June 2017
Ghost In The S.H.I.E.L.D.
22 Episodes. Starring: Clark Gregg, Ming-Na Wen, Chloe Bennet, Iain De Caestecker, Elizabeth Henstridge, Henry Simmons, John Hannah, Mallory Jansen, Jason O'Mara, Parminder Nagra, Zach McGowan, Gabriel Luna & Brett Dalton. Creator: Joss Whedon.
"What a run"! Ming Na-Wen's Agent Melinda May exhaustedly tells Clark Gregg's Agent Phil Caulson in the penultimate episode of Season 4 of Marvel's 'Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D'. And it really has been one hell of one. This just may be the best season of the 'S.H.I.E.L.D.' series yet. Hail Marvel! After the first series trilogy, this season of three acts stepped it up with a Ghost in the S.H.I.E.L.D. machine, some 'Man In The Hydra Castle' alternate reality bytes and a hell of a lot of paranoid androids for you Radioheads. With so much drama on the ABC it's hard being Clark G.R.E.G.G. Who needs to account for Netflix's Defenders now (chill...it's just a joke)? No matter how good they are. Especially with a 'Legion' of 'Gifted' sub-series coming from the first three letters of the alphabet network as Marvel are getting all 'Cloak & Dagger' before they finally do release their strand of 'Inhuman' DNA. If only the originator 'Agent Carter' wonderous woman could have survived to suit up and join in. D.C.'s 'Flash', 'Green Arrow', 'Supergirl' and 'Gotham' beware. You thought you were winning the small-screen war you were reduced to by direct, alternating currents. But these are the legends of tomorrow. Just like Stan Lee's best. The billionaire, playboy philantropist, the green guy, the guy with the hammer and the guy that leads with the shield. But this is S.H.I.E.L.D. As big as Ant-Man checking his extra leg-room in at airports (don't forget the orange slices). As cosmic-mystical mystifying as the Sorcerer Supreme. And of course legendary like your friendly, neighbourhood, 'Homecoming' Peter Parker. This has got as much claws as the cat from Wakanda with adamantium ones. And between the trenches of 'Captain America-Civil War' and 'Avengers: Infinity War' next year comes the lucky 'Logan', 'Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2', 'Spider-Man' and 'Thor-Ragnarok' year that with this season going forth and the 'Iron Fist' streaming 'Defenders' in 2017 (and lets not forget 'The Punisher' anti-hero for our sins) makes for one of the biggest calenders of blockbusting Marvel magic yet. This is not a phase. This is legend Lee.
'Avenger' assembler and 'Justice League' stand-in Joss Whedon and his brother Jed know how to weave all the strands of narrative thread into a cohesive half-year yarn for super-comic, cult purists. As this season strategically deals with themes and metaphors of creation, existence, our warped sense of reality, sins of the devil and even the outsider, alienating ideas influenced by immigration issues in Trump's xenophobic and racist-ravaged America. WOW! Who knew a superhero show from the creators of 'Buffy' could drive such a subliminal stake through the demonic heart of our oppressors...and do it all so subtley. But remember there's so much more at stake here from a show that originates from the old fashioned stars and stripes of just another skinny kid from Brookyln who bucked Hitler in the jaw. And it all comes from a shadow league team of spies that are depleted (see: 'Spies Gooodbye'...snif), but never defeated. Lead by sassy as he wants to be Agent Caulson. Clark Gregg is still as wonderful a person as Tahiti is a place. And then of course there's Ming-Na Wen's stern but sterling Agent May character. Kicking ass and inspiring as much "it's going to be May" memes on the last day of June as Justin Timberlake. Flanked by the Fitz/Simmons love-in of great Scot's Ian De Caestecker and Elizabeth Henstridge taking the 'It's Complicated' status to a whole new wireless level and the axe shotgun of strong-man, Mack, Henry Simmons who brings a blunderbuss of evoking Yo-Yoing emotions to this seasons proceedings powerfully. And then of course there's Daisy, the Ridley of this S.H.I.E.L.D. ship like Sigourney. The Sky high talent of Chloe Bennett has all bad guys quaking in their boots with her black suit and Widow making powers. Except one...
"I'm not the one who decides", angel of the devil Gabriel Luna answers Quake's claim that he shouldn't determine the fate of who lives and dies in L.A. As his face burns and melts all the way away into a flaming skull that sets this season aflame with an outstanding opening and Marvel moment never seen before. Big screen or T.V. That's some pretty convincing C.G. brought with that Downey Jr., Tony Stark 'Iron Man' money. Yep that's right! Luna is the great, cult, punishing anti-hero, the Ghost Rider. But he's no Harley, Nic Cage-son chopper riding Johnny Blaze (but just you Easter Egg wait). He's the Mexican Reys, stalking and riding the storm drains of the City of Lost Angels like a devil. Hell to white squared zip-up leather, in a Dodge licking flames like a viper. Driving angry, getting real fast and oh so furious in his lava like Nitrus injected Camaro. Charging this character arc up by the crossed bones, Gabriel's cursed Robbie character is easily the greatest gift of this series. So much so we can't wait for a wheel-spin spin-off changing lanes like he shifts gears. Flipping th script like he habitual does his set of keys. This Rider is off the flaming chain. But he's not the only Ghost who haunts this fall season of Darkhold demonics by the ancient book. Like original (90's) 'The Mummy' star John Hannah who wants to make human nature and artifact with his electric sheep like android dream. Piloted by his machine muse Aida, played perfectly by Aussie actress Mallory Jansen who played life-model Helena Christensen, former love of late, great frontman Michael Hutchence in the INXS biopic mini-series, 'Never Tear Us Apart'. Here she is note perfect like that classic songs iconic bass and sax. And has a real "hench" man in the formidable form of famous voice actor Zach McGowan, who cracked Mickey Rourke's Whiplash character for the 'Iron Man 2' video game. Here he plays the Superior standard, Russian Bradley Cooper lookalike villain obsessed with vodka (I know!) chased by onion (really?). Lucky for S.H.I.E.L.D. Rogers juiced up Patriot Jason O'Mara has the iron will to launch them in a new direction. Even if some senators want to stand in his inhumanity way. Like former 'E.R.' standout Parminder Nagra reuniting with Ming-Na and bending the rules like Beckham. All this and the brilliant Brett Dalton's dashing, but creepily charismatic and compelling Grant Ward returns to the hive for a few cameo episodes like we wish he was back for real, permanently. "Wait...what?! How?! Why?!" We hear you cry! Well we've already said too much and you don't want to spoil the sweet surprise. But if that was really the case you'd unfollow them on Instagram. As 'Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.' goes from 'Ghost Rider' to 'Agents Of Hydra' like a 'L.M.D.' trip this Marvel has plenty under the table for everyone to deal with before its fantastic season four finale which will make five famous ('Agents Of S.W.O.R.D.' anyone!?). So put your feet up and binge watch this one if you haven't already kept up to date, week to week. And please Phil surely it's time to crack open that bottle of Hague!? TIM DAVID HARVEY.
See This If You Liked: 'Agent Carter', 'Daredevil', 'Jessica Jones'.