Sunday, 15 April 2018

REVIEW: LOVE SIMON

4/5

Call Him By His Name.

110 Mins. Starring: Nick Robinson, Katherine Langford, Alexandra Shipp, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Keiynan Lonsdale, Logan Miller, Miles Heizer, Joey Pollari, Talitha Bateman, Natasha Rothwell, Tony Hale, Josh Duhamel & Jennifer Garner. Director: Greg Berlanti.

Simon says, his life is normal. He's just like you. And it is. He is. He's got a family that he actually likes. His mom was her high-school valedictorian and this prom queens high school sweetheart was the sportstar quarterback. A stud who is still running all the way to the touchdown of a happy marriage. He has the sweetest sister and the BEST friends. One who drink too much iced coffee and gorge on too many canteen carbs. You know?! Kid stuff! So yeah he's just like you. Except Simon says he has one huge ass secret. He's gay. Simon says he just wants to live a normal life and boy should we let him. Because this is a normal love. As normal, far from ordinary in the way that any love we hold in our heart, unique and sweet is and as beautiful as the eyes you can't stop looking at. Or the individual you can't stop thinking about. No matter how many times you look at your phone in hopes that you just didn't happen to hear that text or call, like you haven't been stop, looking and listening all night. If only you could pluck up the courage to dial those digits yourself, yet you're wooried what they'll say. Yet Simon is wooried what everyone will say. Imagine that! He just wants to hold on to the life he had before for as long as he can, but imagine the life he'll give once he gives it a shot. 'Love, Simon' like you love thy neighbour as this coming out, coming of age story is the sweet saccharine taste of teenage love that everyone deserves. Man or woman. Woman to woman. Man to man. Boy meets girl. Boy meets boy. Whomever meets whomever. Love is love. And love is a sacred thing. Especially your first. And that should be celebrated. Not closeted. And now from the producers of 'The Fault In Our Stars', rom-drama 'Love, Simon'-showing homaged heart to the 80's and 90's, growing up with the American dream classics of John Hughes and Cameron Crowe in station wagon and vintage fur under denim-offers the same story to this boys life without discrimination or distinction. But redefinition. As 'Riverdale' and 'Arrow' producer Greg Berlanti, who shot and lobbied hard for 'Dawsons Creek's' first gay kiss way back when changes the entertainment game again. Going by Becky Albertalli's young adult, bestselling book 'Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda' as he doesn't wait for this young life to be over.

Simon says his name is Jaques. But it isn't. He wasn't born in Paris. It isn't even Simon. It's Nick Robinson. Big brother of 'Jurassic World'. The sensitive soul that gave 'Everything, Everything' to the girl who couldn't step out of her front door. A face that already looked familiar. But is now going to be most recognizable for this identity. This is his movie. His classic. What he'll be remembered for, for changing his career and the culture as a whole. Beyond entertainment, but current. A movement of a movie like fellow heroes 'Wonder Woman' and the 'Black Panther', but in his own ordinary, individual light. And still as groundbreaking as 'Brokeback', 'Moonlight' and what should have followed sun-bathed in Oscars this Academy, 'Call Me By Your Name'. Whereas latest horror 'A Quiet Place' is hushed, game-changing cinema for the genre, this breaks new ground for our culture as a whole. But yet and more straight-forward, still so simple a story in all of loves complications...no matter who it is you end up falling for. There's more than a quick message here for the D.M. generation. One that could last a lifetime...or send a lifeline. This is inspired. But in a generation genuinely in need of more postive influences and role models this is so important. Here is one who hasn't even left school, but boy has he graduated. And just in the knick if time Robinson should be his own valedictorian like his mother. Whether cap thrown and gown, or in the blogger age of personal penmanship. This film isn't full of big speeches however, but definitive declarations of self in order to help others. They call kids today selfish. But I see nothing but real friends looking out for each other like family, sister or brother. And without stereotype, misunderstood disrespect, or misguided understanding (or the lack of), Robinson is the real deal. Giving Sam Spier the shot he deserves and the cupid taken heart of a boys life, so far in love he doesn't know what to do with himself. Let alone the feelings he has, who he has them for and what everyone around him will think of all that. But no longer hiding behind his locker, Simon will walk the halls with pride. No matter who is holding books or hands by his side. It doesn't get much tougher than that. He's got heart no matter what the rest say. Save the one F-word of power for those bullies who see it as amusement. This is his life. His other four letter word. This is the "This Is Me" 'Showman' stage. And he's ready to ride this illuminating ferris wheel from the bottom, straight to the top in this wonderwheel wonderland.

Simon says we all need friends. And with 'Breakfast Club' ones like these, whose going to be hurt by enemies...or even "frenemies"? Simon says he could give you '13 Reasons Why', but how about the star of that redefining Netflix show Katherine Langford streaming through this story with the best friend qualities of someone who will never stray, no matter what side of the street she walks on? Or the amazing Alexandra Shipp? The kind of friend who you may have only known for 6 months, but feels like forever. Look familiar? Yep that's her the 'X-Men: Apocalypse' star. A real Storm of a talent that even the cool kid Jorge Lendeborg Jr. is crushing on her with comic-book geek no shame. But that's got nothing on the meme and gif internet immortalized nerding of Logan Miller, who previously played a young, alright, alright, alright version of McConaughey on Matthew's 'Ghost Of (Epic Career Fails) Girlfriends Past'. Showing that those over the head, Cusack stereo gestures just don't play in real life when everyone has a smartphone to record and share your pants round your ankles moment. Logan just can't get lucky, but be school problems weary, this kids got Wolverine claws...no matter how cowardly they come out. It's a good job Simon has more friends who have got his back than those looking to stab him in it. But between handsome good-jock, Keiynan Lonsdale, sweet-natured, Miles Heizer and Waffle House waiter with more than meets the eye on the side Joey Pollari, who is the Blue e-mail pen-pal who has been helping Simon feel anything but? As a Catfish like hue shows the typing correspondent between the two star-crossed, but in the shadows Romeo lovers to perhaps also add a weary warning of typing and pouring all your feelings out to an unidentifiable stranger behind the screen who you have no idea of their real identity, let alone look. But in this dark age of the web, this charming movie of the best times of your life is nothing but light in showing us that all love deserves its place in the sun...and not in a shaded shame. This soulful teen tale full of heart holds as close as family. And Simon's here really is the dearest. His sister Talitha Bateman, baking constantly, is mature beyond her curious years. Whilst his perfect parents, played with white picket punctuation by 'Life As We Know It' parent and 'Transformer' Josh Duhamel and award winning Jennifer Garner are actually beyond the whole nine yard fantasy as real as it gets when family focuses on exactly that. Even a hilarious character actor Tony Hale is more than a vice principal trying to be down with the cool kids cariacture once he gets serious. And a hilarous drum-roll and symbol for music teacher Natasha Rothwell please. But for all the important implications here this film like real love, between anyone who all have the same rights as everyone else is pure, unadulterated fun (one coming out as straight, alternate reality montage is as hilarious as it is really saying something). And we say that's how it should be. How it should have always been like it can be now and forever more. Don't you agree? Simon says...go see this movie. You'll love it. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Further Filming: 'Call Me By Your Name', 'Lady Bird', 'Say Anything'.

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

REVIEW: ISLE OF DOGS

4/5

Dogs In Translation.

101 Mins. Starring: Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Bob Balaban, Koyu Rankin, Kunichi Nomura, Ken Wantanabe, Scarlett Johansson, Greta Gerwig, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Nijiro Murakami, Akira Ito, Liev Schreiber, Harvey Kietel, Anjelica Huston, F. Murray Abraham, Courtney B. Vance & Yoko Ono. Director: Wes Anderson.

Here boy, how's this for a dogs purpose?! Straight from the foxhole 'Mr. Fantastic', Wes Anderson stretches his Gromit like stop-motion animation all the way to the Far East of Japan. And the result is as amazing as anime. About to leave you wagging...tail or not. Welcome back home to the wonderful world of Wes, as 'The Darjeeling Limited' director brews up another classic for his 'Life Aquatic' aquarium of amazement. One that takes the almost decade aged model of 'Fantastic Mr. Fox', the runaway adventure of 'Moonrise Kingdom' and the Hollywood A-list vacancies booked in 'The Grand Budapest Hotel' to a whole new island. 'Isle Of Dogs' does more than bark up a tree, taking on politics, immigration and of course you know who by the dog pound. In a weary world in need of some TLC today. Whether that be a good pat, or just a scratch behind the ear. And anyone trying to discipline this with cultural appropriation tags, careful you don't get bit. This is Wes' traditional love letter to Japan's deep culture of character, no disrespectful stereotype. From the first beat of the taiko drum, to the last deep bow of respect. From the articulated art of Hokusai homages, to the beautiful bloom of the classic cherry blossom you should expect at this time of year. But even if 'tis the season', what happens when the winds of change blow it all away? What if what you love most in this world flies away like you let it go? What would you do if you lost your best friend? That's what our young boy Atari faces here, when his beloved dog Spots is lost to "trash island". A rabid, flea-infested land for those suffering from "snout fever", or what you could call, dog-flu. Now it's up to a pack of strays to help Atari spot Spots and bring him back to his kennel in a film where the Japanese speak subtly without subtitle and the dogs barks are translated to the kings.

Ruff I know. But from the gaining sumo to the rising sun, this is a treat blockbusters have been begging with two paws in the air for. But they'll just have to go fetch as who let the Hollywood stars out? Cranston, Norton, Goldblum, Murray, Johansson, McDormand, Gerwig, Swinton, Schreiber, Kietel. Yoko Ono? They're all here like the 'Grand Budapest' had some rooms left. Canine friendly ones. Breaking bark or barking bad, leading the pack is Bryan Cranston's cranky stray with a flea in his fur. Not afraid to Mike Tyson another mutt for maggot infested scraps. Who else to lead but a dog named Chief? Well how about Edward Norton's Rex? The Academy actors vocals as instantly recognisable as that name for a dog. But for all the great voice work here none brings the wide puppy dog eyes quite like the one of 'Jurassic Park's' Jeff Golblum. The offbeat legend in this offbeat legends film returns after making 'Thor-Ragnarok' as weird and whimsically wonderful as he is. As this time 'The Fly', who 'Budapest' asked if someone threw his cat out the window turns into a mutt. And what would a Wes Anderson film be without the baseball sweater wearing Bill Murray (eight wonders and counting)? Who is on cult hero top form and even has a 'Lost In (Barking) Translation' reunion of sorts with Scarlett Johansson. Whose dog, when it comes to grooming and new tricks is the best in show. Fellow 'Monuments Men' Bob Balaban 'Maguire' completes the leading pack perfectly. Giving good boy Koyu Rankin-armed with a Bart Simpson catapult-the band of barking mad brothers he needs to defeat some evil K-9's in a classic cartoon, Acme cloud, punch bowl dust up and find his hero. As ours takes a rocket ship to a quiet place forgotten by his monster of a Mayor uncle Kobayashi. Played with pointed perfection by 'Isle Of Dogs' co-writer and character co-creator Kunichi Nomura. Atari may be his ward, but this kid will leave the whole prefecture just to bring his dog home to the spot where he warmly belongs at the end of his bed. Remember it's never "just a f###### dog"!

'Last Samurai' Ken Wantanabe bridges the Japanese and Hollywood gap as his surgeon stitches all of this together. All of this being all the amazing A-list talent making the trip. 'Best Actress" Oscar winner for 'Three Billboard's Outside Ebbing, Missouri' Frances McDormand is here for your interpretation. Whilst Greta Gerwig who almost got one for her 'Lady Bird' direction is flying here as a nominated exchange student leading this protest. And if that wasn't enough, Tilda Swinton (who rivals Murray for as many moments in service with Wes) steals the show as Oracle. An adorable pug who can see the future aswell as she can understand the news (Swinton hasn't been this scene stealing against type since her unrecognisable, made-up 'Trainwreck'). Even legends like Harvey Kietel and F. Murray Abraham add to this score of actors. And don't forget or neglect to realize 'Ray Donovan's' presence. As you'll be kicking yourself if you didn't get that Liev Schreiber's unmistakable drawl draws a crowd too like pets greeting you at the door after a long day (I hold up my paw). Even 'Addams Family' Morticia Anjelica Huston gets a gig as a mute dog. And how about 'The People vs O.J. Simpson's' Johnny Cochran, Courtney B. Vance with the nice narration chasing Morgan Freeman's tail? There's a wealth of Japanese talent that doesn't go unnoticed too in this art of entertainment by the manga book, like Akira (Ito) and (Nijiro) Murakami. But it's John Lennon's muse that really has our imagination. As Yoko Ono herself plays...erm Assistant Scientist Yoko Ono. But how perfect is that? Like everything in Anderson's amazing animation, surely soon to be Academy acclaimed. Wes' wonder of hard-worked, hand-craftmanship is inspired in its every increment. As this animation illuminates like the Tokyo neon of smartphones taking crossing shots at midnight in Shibuya. And in a time where people are buying out cinemas for symbolic superheroes like 'Wonder Woman' and the 'Black Panther' for the influenced youth of tomorrow to see today, there are even theatres accommodating and catering to our four legged friends in order for them to join their masters side like bringing them the morning paper. Now isn't that a treat!? Bow WOW! TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Further Filming: 'Fantastic Mr. Fox', 'The Grand Budapest Hotel', 'Moonrise Kingdom'.

Saturday, 7 April 2018

REVIEW: A QUIET PLACE

4/5

Don't Say A Word.

95 Mins. Starring: Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Millicent Simmonds & Noah Jupe. Director: John Krasinski.

...Shhh! Fingers to lips. Don't speak. The less said about 'The Quiet Place' the better. And that's no bad thing...but actually a good one. So lend us your ears for just a second as we go against the usual lip service grain we give films for a review of the fewest words since the silent classic 'The Artist' (well...that's just lazy writing)...

...The best horror in sheer years and years-outside of the chilling chapters of Stephen King adaptations-is groundbreaking under bare eggshell treading feet that creep. From 'The Office' to the managing position of a writer/director/actor triple threat, now Hollywood big player John Krasinski is joined in spousal support by 'The Girl On The Train' and real life wife Emily Blunt. Whose amazing acting of expressive emotion helps bring the force trauma to this nerve shredding and chair arm scratching thriller that tears you in two with a family that will do anything before that happens...

...Joined by two coming of age child actors, wise beyond their years in the hearing-impaired, 'Wonderstruck' wow of Millicent Simmonds and brave boy Noah Jupe. Krasinski and Blunt, touchingly and tenderingly earbud and bump dancing to Neil Young's 'Harvest Moon' beautifully bring the heart of family (it's so refreshing here that in a "me before you" empathy lacking time and tide we have two characters asking, "who are we if we can't protect (our children)") to this monster horror that preys on sound like a T-Rex does movement for site. And there's plenty of 'Jurassic Park' references that you can throw a kitchen sink at along with homages to those 'Cloverfield' projects (it was almost a treatment), 'Stranger Things' and a nailed 'Home Alone' one beyond the basement of this upstate New York farmland that crops up here. Laying waste to a corn-maize landscape set for wrenching set-pieces. All the way down to the sinking grain silo suffocation...

...But one terrifyingly tense blood bathtub, 'I Am Legend' like hiding scene of terror tears and pregnant screams will have you gasping for air and grasping for the hand of whoevers next to you, whether you know them or not (sorry guy!). The less we say in this spoiler alert age the better, especially when you should go into this movie like the monsters blind and without a trailer tease like many all too reveals these days. That way you'll really feel a film that stirs your every sense beyond your ear canal. As even the sounds of rumbling stomachs and rustling popcorns in an otherwise pin drop theatre will leave you on the most taught tenterhooks...

...Shut up and see this movie! Because this post-apocalypse, kerosene lamp slow burner ignites and does more with mere few words than most blockbusters screaming "ACTION" do in days of dialogue. Need we say anymore? Simply put...it'll leave you speechless... TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Further Filming: Shush! There's nothing else like this movie out there.

Sunday, 1 April 2018

REVIEW: READY PLAYER ONE

3.5/5

Ready. Steady. GO See This Movie!

140 Mins. Starring: Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, T.J. Miller, Simon Pegg & Mark Rylance. Director: Steven Speilberg.

Player One ready? This is Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory for the gamer generation Charlie. Cracking open the ultimate egg this Easter, with even more hatching from something that is no hollow shell on the hunt for more pop culture references than you can shake a joystick at. And who better to turn Ernest Cline's groundbreaking, game changing novel idea from page to screen in earnest by the thrown away rule book than the most famous name on the back of all directors chairs, Steven Speilberg? The man who made classic cinema that changed and inspired the industry and the way we watch and make movies like 'Jaws', 'E.T.' and 'Jurassic Park' may make outstanding Oscar drama these days like 'Lincoln', 'Bridge Of Spies' and this years 'Post' with Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks, but the big kid in him can still get behind the camera for a 'Super 8' every now and then. And that's when the real timeless, magic happens on a nostalgic trip down memory lane from the celluoid to the game movies like this didn't just change...but made as original as they are out of this world. Let alone movie theatre. And out of all the Easter Eggs in all the films in this Marvel world you have to love the production crew of this movie trying to sneak in some Speilberg snippets from the ark of a nixed 'Schindlers List' book, to one that did make the cut as much as the not moviestar like modesty of Steven not wanting his own movies to take away from the popping cinematic culture bursting through this blockbuster. Like Batman, the Iron Giant or more we just don't want to spoil (is that the bike from 'Tron' in the greatest, Tokyo neon like cinematic canvas of 3D since Disney's 'Legacy'? No! It's the Japanese bike from cult, acclaimed anime, 'Akira') like when you have to fake your face in reaction to a secret spilled surprise party. So before you blow the candles out just make sure you know there's even bigger monsters from lost worlds scaling the Empire State Building and slapping away speed racers like biplanes on a "Great Scott", Delorean car chase for a key in New York City. From the checkered flag of the Brooklyn Bridge to the Central Park finish line. On your marks. Get set. Are you ready?

'Jaws' was a book. 'Jurassic Park' was a book. And now with 'Ready Player One' Steven Speilberg gives us his most amazing adaptation and dynamic direction of what makes movies movies since when dinosaurs ruled the earth. This Pacman guzzling blockbuster and beater is his new banner moment, top score, high five. Type his name back into the top rank. Because everything else looks like it was directed by noobs compared to this. The rest of cinema is camping out for the spare change spilled from all the gold coins shooting out of this amazing arcade as classic as Atari and as pop art history homaged as '2049''s blade running neon symbol spotlight commercial for geek culture. This movie has everything even a British butler escort to your favourite haunted hotel and room request...just ask Jeeves...and don't take the bloody elevator. This Easters treasure hunt for subtly layed eggs in the VR El Dorado of the OASIS is a wonderwall and wheel of 'Back To The Future' 80's culture, that doesn't take a day off like Ferris. Making even 'Stranger Things' look...well...ordinary. And speaking of those Goonies the hook of this cult picture has to start with a McFly kid pumping up his hoverboard floating vicarious courage like Reebok sneakers. And who better for to don the virtual reality goggles than X-Men's Cyclops himself Tye Sheridan as the Peter Parker name like Wade Watts? Plugged in and about to show real red eye vision in this (now next) years burning 'Dark Phoenix' rise. The young Sheridan has been growing on screen ever since he was a child actor in Terrence Malik and Jessica Chastain's breakout picture 'The Tree Of Life' as Brad Pitt's son. Aswell as the coming of age 'Joe' with Nicholas Cage and from the dirt 'Mud' moment with Matthew McConaughey. But now this is Tye's time even if most of the time he's more vocal in the form of his avatar that looks as video vivid as that blue planet of Cameron's creation, which is referenced here in an abyss of hidden gems before it's own trilogy of sequels. Sheridan is sheer youth in nostalgic revolt brilliance the moment he opens his apocalypse, dystopian favela stacked trailer doors as commanding as Michael B. Jordan's Killmonger on his breakout, breakthrough scene in 'Black Panther'. Another Marvel this super kid is a shy hero, hiding behind a screen like us all in this digital day and age, but still with first person control.

Shooting for the same stars in this multiplayer are even more avatars looking to one up. Just like 'Me, Earl and the Dying Girl' and 'Limehouse Golem' star Olivia Cooke who is a rising Lily Collins or James like actress of the future and here puts on a brilliant digital disguise like her characters birthmark that makes acting Cooke's childhood made birthright. And how about King George VI, 'Darkest Hour', 'Dark Knight' and 'The Place Beyond The Pines' star Ben Mendelsohn? The 'Rogue One' Aussie rules as the villains villain and the classic character actor of 'Star Wars', 'Killing Them Softly', 'Black Sea', 'Slow West' and 'Exodus: Gods and Kings' versatile veteran fame doesn't disappoint as a creepy, slimy suit, big bad who puts the "weed" in d###weed. And he has plenty of good guy gunning ammunition in his arms with the voice and avatar of 'Deadpool's best friend T.J. Miller by his henchman side. Complete with a skeletal frame that actually looks like he hasn't missed a meal...this hour. It's a good job there's more Speilberg vets in best supporting actor support, aswell as 'Shaun Of The Dead' and 'Star Trek' Scottie, Great Brit nerd hero Simon Pegg who seems to have taken a Hollywood 'Mission: Impossible' and pegged himself into every other movie franchise in the blockbuster industry. But appearing somewhere between a 'Big' 80's dressed, 'Space Invading' man-child and the lead singer of The Cure (soundtrack scores high too by the way, you kids are gonna love it!), an unrecognisable, but always reliable Mark Rylance is undeniable as the sweet, shy, 'Boys Don't Cry' master builder of this 8-bit block by block universe. The Oscar winning 'Bride Of Spies' actor who also took on the C.G.I. mantle of the 'BFG' in the wake of late legend Robin Williams' death reunites with Spielberg for a lucky third time. One that sees him take on a Gandalf 'guise once he's in the mainframe of his own reality and escape from the real world. And that's the type of computer game theme for the controller one generation that seeks solace and even online solidarity in the headsets and headspace of living through a CPU. Whatever gives you identity gives you life, but after awhile it's time to put down the stick and the V.R. schtick and see what you're really made of. After all the confidence and problem solving you've been given in those strategy games was in you all along and can be applied to the real world too. Just as long as the only thing that you beat 'em up are your problems and not the people that cause 'em. You always have another life. Time to make your own nostalgia kid. Ready? K.O. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Further Filming: Every film you still love as much as you did growing up...

Monday, 26 March 2018

REVIEW: ANNIHILATION

4/5

Death By Annihilation.

115 Mins. Starring: Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, Tuva Novotvy, David Gyasi, Benedict Wong & Oscar Isaac. Director: Alex Garland.

Destruction comes in many forms. From the threat of nature around us paying us back for all we take. To what we have nurtured in how we treat ourselves. 'Annihilation' looks at this extinction level event inevitability. The word "annihilate" is defined by Webster as "to destroy all traces of". And here you're going to get a figurative and literal representation of all of that. Based on Jeff VanderMeer's terrific trilogy beginning bestseller, 'The Beach' novelist and '28 Days Later' screenwriter Alex Garland follows his devastatingly dynamite directing debut 'Ex Machina' with the only thing we fear finishing us off more than the threat of Artificial Intelligence...the one from the mother nature of our own natural world. And whether robots or planets the actual alien notion of all of this is that it's all in our hands. We brought this all on ourselves. We created this destruction. Heavy I know. But a '2001 A Space Odyssey' and 'Interstellar' like epic, event film for the science fiction genre that shares more strands of DNA with 'Under The Skin' and 'The Tree Of Life', than say 'The Thing' or the forest aesthetic threat of 'Predator' was always going to be. Like Amy Adams alien 'Arrival' with 'Blade Runner 2049' thinking androids director Denis Villeneuve, 'Annihilation' will leave you thinking, talking and traipsing ending explanation articles and videos (much like Denis' Gyllenhaal doppleganger 'Enemy'). Long after you've left the theatre or Netflix app. Until it haunts you like last years deepest and most definitive, cinematic classic, 'A Ghost Story'. Portishead powered to a sonic score with all those hallmark low-fi, sci-fi drones, offset by the strumming acoustics of the chords of Crosby, Stills and Nash. This made for each other mix of home life and an extra terrestrial one shows us what lies beyond and what lies beneath and within our very souls. On the bubbling surface the oil and water like "Shimmer" of Area X in a Florida swampland shines a light on what we are doing to this physical world. But rifle gun run to the lighthouse like Leonardo DiCaprio in 'Shutter Island' and 'Annihilation' will show the darkness of what we are doing to our actual psychological selves.

Sinewy deer with cherry blossom branches as antlers. Alligators with even bigger jaws that bite. A wild boar that's scream bears more of a resemblance to your own shrieking cry of terror. This is a very different animal and world indeed. There's something lurking in the bushes of this forest of fear. But between the trees Garland garnishes these woods with color and cinematic beauty not seen this green since the amazing anime of Japan's 'In The Garden Of Words', whose rain storm swept Tokyo looks so life like you can't tell the difference between pictures of the real city today and the anime. Kaleidoscopic cell structures pierce your pupils too, as this visual and visceral feast of the senses and sensibilities touches you right on your nerve that is shred in the slow burn of this thrilling and terrifyingly compelling, vein taught thread of narrative. It's kind of like the raw feeling of pulling the ripped, loose skin from under your fingernail until it excruciatingly won't stop. Does that crawlingly remind you of the 'Black Swan'? Well with even more animalistic darkness dancing around her, one of today's best (albeit still so underrated), Natalie Portman delivers a powerhouse performance of tortured guilt and nuanced loneliness. Like the trials of the clinically calculated, glass of water coldness of the hazmat surrounded interview room she is surveyed and subjected in. This 'Jane' is more than her gun. Or the hammer of Marvel if fans ever get their wish to see her Jane Foster take over as the female 'Thor'. This amazing actress has better tools to bear and in this method of madness that is true fear itself, she sends shivers like she did in the memory of JFK for last years haunting 'Jackie' Best Actress worthy biopic epic. Her complex yet straight-forward characterization is also symbolic in showing us what great, redefining science ficion really is all about. Whether from original author Philip K. Dick to revolutionary filmaker Neil Blomkamp. Symbolic in that the inventive and inspired ideas of this genre really play background to the makings and morals of the metaphors that apply to the real world right now and what's to come if we continue on this same, worn path with footprints ahead of us.

Garland's garden of worlds has more to it than all this however in the wonder of this all women epic expedition that breaks ground without screaming from the tree tops about it. Legendary 'The Hateful Eight' star Jennifer Jason Leigh is unsettingly brilliant as a potent psychologist who truly gets under the skin of people who aren't even her patients. But oh how she tries to psychoanalyze them. Maybe not in the same hypnotic, by the VanderMeer book way, but this mind manipulation is still as maddening for the cinema crowd. Joining Portman's biologist and Leigh's psychologist is 'Eat Pray Love' star Tuva Novotvy's geologist. And the actress who served up substance in the 'Borg vs McEnroe' doubles biopic rocks here too, seeing more than granite once the dust settles. But the real standouts are the physicist and medic played by two of the best young actresses around today, Tessa Thompson and Gina Rodriguez respectively. 'Creed's' Thompson whose career after her Valkyrie character in 'Thor-Ragnarok' is about to hit an avenging 'Infinity' gives us her deepest and best yet as a tortured, sincere soul with strength in all the pain she has gone through and survived. Whilst 'Jane The Virgin' star Gina Rodriguez who made the move to movies with one of Mark Wahlberg and Pete Berg's more recent, real life collaborations, 'Deepwater Horizon' steals the show as a medic whose trying to stitch what's happening together faster than her body is falling apart from within. She owns one particular breakdown scene with breakneck, blood-curdling, terrifying tension. Going back to 'Interstellar', David Gyasi who made his mark there plays a spanner in the works catalyst here. Whilst 'Doctor Strange' Avenger (also about to go to 'Infinity' and beyond war), 'Martian' and Philip K. Dick 'Electric Dreams' and 'Blade Runner 2049', '2036: Nexus Dawn' star Benedict Wong is on hazmat hand to help uncover this story in his own undeniable way. But out of all the men made in this movie it's 'Star Wars' star pilot Oscar Isaac who strikes the strongest chord, albeit so subtly, reuniting with Garland after the mania of 'Machina'. Arguably the greatest leading man working today not named DiCaprio takes a back seat somewhat but has a presence that haunts the entire movie. Like his returning husband character who is the only man to come back from an expedition to Area X after most of the units killed themselves, each other or simply got lost in the woods. But is he the same man? Cue Bryan Cranston in 'Electric Dreams' like Johnny Depp's 'The Astronauts Wife'. Physically he certainly is but like with anything in this looks deceiving genre psychologically plays a different story to the beautiful family making flashbacks that puncuate this picture. And Oscar plays is always award worthy perfectly. Isaac, indies leading mans isolated independence tugs at the soul of a weathered and torn man who can't comprehend, let alone get over what he's been through...if he can even move on at all. There's lessons to be learned and earned here if only we here in the U.K. like the U.S. could see it on the big screen where this vivid visual belongs. But even smartphone screened in the dark this film will leave you wired and primed to look over your shoulder. It shudders both in what you see and what you feel, giving you more than a bump in the night that will keep you losing sleep and sheep till morning light trying to figure it all out. Rocking you to your bones like a phosphorus grenade. This annihilates everything in it's wake, except one thing we all have at our core despite ourselves. The strive to survive. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Further Filming: 'Ex Machina', 'The Thing', 'Arrival'.

Thursday, 22 March 2018

T.V. REVIEW: ELECTRIC DREAMS Season 1

4/5

We Can Retell It For You Wholesale.

10 Episodes. Starring: Bryan Cranston, Greg Kinnear, Mireille Enos, Holliday Grainger, Geraldine Chaplin, Jack Reynor, Benedict Wong, Terrence Howard, Anna Paquin, Timothy Spall, Juno Temple, Janelle Monae, Annalise Basso, Maura Tierney, Vera Farmiga, Mel Rodriguez, Jason Mitchell & Steve Buscemi. Executive Producer: Bryan Cranston.

Together in 'Electric Dreams' the wise, cult-following, gospel words of foreshadowing fable, science-fiction forefather Philip K. Dick have a modern day 'Black Mirror' held up against them to reflect todays relationship between technology and humanity. Or albeit the lack of any in todays trend driven, swiped aside age of a social-media obsessed millennial generation in need of a real refresh. Sometimes you can't look forward without going back. And like the Tokyo neon like futuristic cities landscaped here, this Western world could learn from the Far East or the cyberpunk they and Dick inspire that the best worlds stretch the ideas of innovation but are still so steeped in the inspiration of tradition. It's no coincidence that this author wrote these decades in the making ahead of their time stories almost half a century ago. Philip K. Dick is to sci-fi what minerals are to water. P.K.D. is this genres DNA. Don't see the strand? Have you ever seen 'Total Recall', 'Minority Report', 'The Adjustment Bureau' or 'A Scanner Darkly'? Or read 'Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep' that became the other sci-fi masterpiece that made Harrison Ford and gave us a an up to date, stunning sequel and last years most groundbreaking blockbuster in 'Blade Runner 2049'? Well they and the real life ideas they have inspired (talking about the swipe aside generation K. Dick might have actually, inadvertently birthed it to the masses with 'Minority Report') would be nothing without Philip's ideas and words from the click, clack of his typewriter. His ideas verge between scary and prophecy. Utopia vs dystopia. His writing shadowing and warning. Just look at Amazon's Nazi alternate reality of 'The Man In The High Castle'. And after that shows success ten episodes of a new 'Electric Dreams' series now give us the individual short stories of this game-changing writer by the chapter. Executive produced by 'Breaking Bad's' Bryan Cranston and breaking all sorts of talents new and old, these dreams feature an electric, eclectic cast including Steve Buscemi, Greg Kinnear, Terrence Howard, Vera Farmiga, Timothy Spall, Juno Temple and the 'Archandroid' herself Janelle Monae. Pinch us as this blade running show runner is quite the spark.

Plug in and watch this shows series any way you like, as these ten individual stories all connected by K. Dick's futuristic and present day themes past are original and no one two the same in their own right. You could start at ten and count your way down. Or watch these episodes like dialling a phone number. But lets take a look at this anthologies chapters in numerical order. Episode 1: 'The Hood Maker' starring 'My Cousin Rachel' and 'The Finest Hours' standout Holliday Grainger is exactly the mind under surveillance matter story we need right now, with internet companies like Facebook trying to eat all our data and put it on other peoples plates too. Forget free speech how about free thought (Oh Hai Mark!)? Whilst the earth found highlight, 'The Impossible Planet' starring rising British 'Detroit' actor Jack Reynor, 'Martian', 'Doctor Strange' and 'Avengers: Infinity War' star Benedict Wong, Charlie Chaplin's fourth daughter Geraldine and an android straight out of the household of Robin Williams' 'Bicentennial Man' might just be the sweetest sci-fi story of the whole series. Whilst Timothy Spall's 'The Commuter' is by far the superior of the series...if albeit the most grounded in reality straight-forward. Save the lost, idyllic paradise he finds a stop and a half away from his usual train destination. Even the Hogwarts kids from 'Harry Potter' had less trouble getting on board. Steve Buscemi's 'Crazy Diamond' is exactly that...something weird amongst the rough of a nature nurtured by tech and humanoid pigs (can we sniff out some truffling symbolism Orwell?). Whilst the 'Real Life' V.R. interchanging of 'Empire's' Terrence Howard and Rogue actress Anna Paquin (another of this collections classic chapters) will have you guessing beyond the end like any good fill of Phil. Is this real life? Because this is all more than just a fantasy. This intelligence is everything and anything but artificial.

Creative controller Cranston cranks up the second half of this book of stories with the heralded 'Human Is', that with shades of Johnny Depp's 'The Astronaut's Wife' or Oscar Isaac in 'Annihilation' questions whether a returning husband is the man he looks and say he is. Or an alien taking his identity under the skin like that roach from 'Men In Black' who wanted sugar with water (..."MORE"). And whether any of that actually matters for better or worse. Whilst speaking of husbands coming home as changed men the Greg Kinnear and Mireille Enos suburban drama 'The Father Thing' is hiding haunting horrors outside the house. And after this living room watch that will have you peeled on the edge of your couch like a potato this series finishes strong, with us wanting for more. 'Autofac' starring breakout young actress you'd never guess is actually British Juno Temple and 'Hidden Figures' and 'Moonlight' star, let alone groundbreaking singer, already with an android obsession, Janelle Monae turns the page into an even more stellar story. Whilst Annalise Basso breaks out alongside 'E.R.' and 'The Affair' star Maura Tierney for the anything but 'Safe and Sound' school days. These 'Dreams' save the almost best for last too with 'K.A.O.' AKA 'Kill All Others' (subtle...we know). Starring 'Bates Motel's' Vera Farmiga, 'Straight Outta Compton' Eazy-E, Jason Mitchell and the real star of this show, Mel Rodriguez in subliminal and literal messages of paranoia of those in power and what the future will give us and take away from us hanging right in front of us. In plain sight, hiding behind our mongered fear to not end up the same as the people others will sell out just so they don't end up down the same river. This will stream through our collective conciousnesses like flood water through sand bags as we are haymaker hit the same with all this weight of wonder. It's a new world out here Huxley and it may only be for the brave. But in a way as uneasily unreal as it seems we can't wait to see what happens next. When it comes to this genre if you don't know Philip (whose influence would be so proud of these inspired incarnations and interpretations) then when it comes to science fiction you don't know Dick. Now we'll be counting sheep like androids until the next time we can dream electric. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Further Filming: 'Black Mirror', 'Blade Runner 2049', 'The Man In The High Castle'.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

T.V. REVIEW: JESSICA JONES Season 2

4/5

Keeping Up With The Jones.

13 Episodes. Starring: Krysten Ritter, Rachael Taylor, Eka Darville, J.R. Ramirez, Terry Chen, Leah Gibson, Callum Keith Rennie, Janet McTeer & Carrie-Anne Moss. Created By: Melissa Rosenberg.

O.K. Let's start at the beginning again. A.K.A. Alias Investigations. And Netflix Marvel Defender 'Jessica Jones' takes us all the way back to the P.I. frosted glass door for Season 2...and throws us right through it. David Tennant's terrific tyrant Killgrave may be in his own headstone heralded one, but the ghosts of his demons are still so very alive and unwell. Such is the Purple Man bruised, whiskey, hip flask chasing unrest for Miss Jones. Still fighting back like a woman, calling times up on all the vile manipulation and violent abuse as she shows power beyond the superhero tag for the Me Too movement that demands and deserves real accountability and solidarity. No wonder Marvel-who are finally not missing out on the 'Wonder Woman' era-put this all episode binge stream out a day earlier than their usual Friday night highlights this International Woman's Day. It means so much more and now Stan Lee's street-level, smartphone screen heroes are killing it like the Scarlett 'Black Widow' movie previously lost in cutting room translation that we really want to see more than the mystique of Jennifer Lawrence's misguided 'Red Sparrow' affair. Epecially as Johansson is going atomic blonde for the 'Infinity War'. Marvel's men know this world in need of saving would be nothing without a woman. And 'Breaking Bad', good and every face of every wannabe Walter White too, Jess is off the red Daredevil chain like Chastain. Going against the book-and even the comic-Krysten Ritter has even written a dark novel in the form of the sleepless night, page-turning thriller 'Bonfire' igniting bookshelves. But now behind her malt wood desk it's time for her to match strike burn it all down, page to screen. The previous fall favourite, now follows Jon Bernthal's powerful punch of 'The Punisher' vigilante and dime and begins this new year of 'Black Panther' and Marvel revolution that has even the most hardcore freaks and geeks able to wait for the eagerly anticipated infinity...even if it is coming early. Faster than an Easter Egg weird and wonderful Whizzer!

Still as curiously compelling as it's noir New York jazz infused, slow burn investigation, unlucky for some (Danny Rand) 13 episode procedural. The blue jeans, leather jacket and finger-less gloves cradling a Nikon that develops her income are back in a Marvel calender flipping so thick and fast like the intro I.D. credits, or former series guest star Luke Cage's own second season throwdown this Summer. And sure if you step into her office you may see her pour something barely lethal from the bottle. But it's got nothing on the toxicity that runs rampant through the city. So wait in the hall for your turn, because this private investigator has other appointments. Especially a late night call with Lucy. Perhaps New York's finest dive-bar this side of Hells Kitchen. Because after a hella of a hell of a long day sometimes you need to hit a bar stool and have the tender slide you one over before you...CRACK! Jessica smashes the shot glass down as it shatters like the suspicion that she might be your typical superhero. She asks for another hit and takes it on the chin before pounding the glass down again. And for round three between typical bar room bantering and bartering back and forth of "are you drinking to remember or forget" and "are you sure you haven't had enough" which Jones backhand returns perfectly like a pro with every lime soured serving. She turns what would be a cliched scene in any ordinary series and gives us another reason why these extended Marvel/Netflix shows give us even more personal face-time with these street-level powers than some of the biggest Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans Marvels in the blockbuster business, 18 films to 'Infinity' deep. She looks to throw down again but as she throws back the nectar of the scotch on the rocks with a twist her gloves warmed by the liquid looking for courage stop short of the bar and join a resigned look on her face that says she's giving up...but not yet. Take that how you want but it's another example of how real Ritter is in capturing all the rawness of Jessica's character. Still haunted by the horror of Killgrave who even though he is in the last part of his name, he is still here one way or another. Not letting Jess rest as she turns in her alcohol fuelled sleep. This all sounds like unnecessary torture, but it's a terrible tale a world saying "me too" needs right now to solidarity show us beyond entertainment how horrible things really are in the abhorrent manner of harassment. Whether from individuals should be safe, supporting spouse husbands, to individuals you may pass in the hall with a look you just didn't ask for. There's a lot of decent men out there, but there is also a hell of a lot of indecent ones out there too that need to be accounted for and brought to justice for all the wrong they do. That they still for some "do you think we where born yesterday...or in the 1950's" (because that's no entitled excuse to those so indignified or ignorant) reason think is right. We all need to take stock of ourselves and our actions and also call time on what is injust and rightfully so no longer belongs in the world today like it should never have had anyway. That's what we've had enough of.

"I don't take no for an answer" one new character tells Jessica. "How very rapey of you" she retorts in K.O. put down (before actually kicking his ass) that Williams sister backhand still serving up strong to any rally coming her way. Melissa Rosenberg's groundbreaking show formidably features all-female directors this 13 times round. And the subject matter broached here...wrote before the 'Me Too' movement took hold last year. Exactly like (did you forget?) the nature of the beast of Season One. This show is much more than a superhero one. It is one for every woman in the world and how powerful they really are. And it's been soaring to these heights before what should be everyones right became a social media trend that fuelled the march of a movement that is much more than likes or retweets and is real action and respect. And that's just what is shared between the sisters of this series and Jessica Jones' unoffical sidekick (now guest star Luke Cage is having coffee with other people) played perfectly like in 'The Defenders' by Rachael Taylor. The radio show host getting her investigation journalist alias on and bringing much more than talk to this dialogue heavy action earner with hell to pay. Taylor was made for this and the former child star character throws the casting couch out the window as she shatters any stronghold from a Weinstein like character...again wrote before that controversy even came out. And how about Eka Darville all 'Daredevil' daring?! Going from the pain of addiction to the gains of weight-room abuse in just two short years that have taken him from gaunt to hench (along with his haircut going from a messy afro to putting the magazine down and asking the barber for a 'Killmonger'), in more ways than just what you find in a protein shake. They're the holdovers along with 'Matrix' legend Carrie Anne-Moss' acclaimed attorney (raising the bar again and even raiding one. As this time this lacerating lawyer gets real personal with her effects) for a cast that was told by Tennant to throw themselves off buildings or put bullets in their head...whether or not they still had a working gun. But there's some new faces too. Across the hall J.R. Ramirez is a different kind of super and there's more to this single father than just trying to do right by his son. And the thousand words in a New York minute tattooed arms of Terry Chen's story try to muscle their way in, legal or otherwise. Although he soon finds himself nursing a sling, whilst Jones does a hangover and subpeona. And just wait until you find out what rising actress Leah Gibson and legend Janet McTeer are all about (just like 'Due South' Ray replacement Callum Keith Rennie. The 'Jigsaw' star fitting all these puzzle pieces together perfectly). To give away more would be to spoil all these womens work, but behind the scenes there's so much going on showing their worth to a franchise that once refused to put a female villain in a 'Thor' movie because they didn't think people would watch. Oh how they wondered wrong as you saw in 'Ragnarok' with the Oscar winning Cate Blanchett's Hela to pay.  And it wasn't the end of the world...just the old one. In a time where we can only hope to see Natalie Portman's Jane Foster brought back to take the hammer if Chris Hemsworth's head crushing Thor loses more than an eye or his locks in the forthcoming original 'Avengers' conclusion. In the space-age of Captain Marvel there's a lot more going on at street level than the fallout of "the incident" they keep talking about. There's a new frame of reference and you can find it in the lens of Jones' camera, not the blurred vision at the bottom of a bottle. Focus. Not all glass was made to be broken and if they can't see her through the frosted door anymore it means it's longer open to them. Case closed. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Further Filming: 'Alias', 'The Defenders', 'Luke Cage'.