Friday, 27 May 2011
Just Another One Of Those Nights.
15, 102 Minutes. Starring: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Justin Bartha, Ken Jeong, Jamie Chung, Paul Giamatti & Crystal (The Monkey). Director: Todd Phillips. Screenplay: Todd Phillips, Scot Armstrong & Craig Mazin
You know those nights you don't forget? The ones where you have a little too much, blame it on the alcohol like Jamie Foxx and swear you'll never drink again? We've all been there (well except monks and me (I don't drink)) but never like this. Never like Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis or Phil, Stu and Alan. I mean these guys go hard. Haven't they learnt from Vegas (In the classic 'The Hangover' movie) they lose friends, alienate themselves, steal tigers, get in to it with Iron Mike Tyson...I mean c'mon now. Bachelor parties are definitely these guys forte...but all in the wrong way. I mean these guys and weddings go as well together as Ross from 'Friends'.
Now these guys are in Thailand celebrating Stu's wedding (to the beautiful Jamie Chung) and you would have thought they would have learnt right...WRONG! There they are losing people again a day before the wedding, all whilst getting into even more trouble, kidnapping more animals, scarring themselves, and doing worse things then they did with a baby, all whilst creating one hell of a Facebook album, but hey at least this time they don't lose Doug! Isn't it always the case, you swear you'll never let yourself get in a state like this again and then you go and make things even worse?
Or better in this case as 'The Hangover Part II' really pulls out all the stops and pops the cork on better action-set pieces, visuals and music...I think these guys like themselves some Kanye West. Speaking of 'Ye, on this films trailer Mr. West's 'Dark Fantasy' plays asking, "Can we get much higher"? Boy do they from more excitement, laughs and gross-out nudity that you could shake a....no that's not a good reference-these boys go big in Bangkok. With blackmailing criminals, the cutest monkey mules and disapproving father-in-laws all these problems for the hungover pals could cause a real headache plot-wise. Still thanks to Phillips perfect mix of comedy, action and detective esque themes this film-like the first-succeeds and keep this 'highest grossing R rated film' ever vehicle going like Mr. Chow was behind the wheel (he may just be the best plus ones ever).
Sure Bill Clinton, Mel Gibson and Liam Neeson may not have made this night out but with the charming, classy Cooper the hilarious Helms and the genius of Galifianakis who else do you need? Plus with some cameos from some old friends and foes no other company is required. This movie called 'Very Bad Trip 2' in some countries really is one of the best journeys you'll take in the cinema all year. Sure it's got nothing on the first one but it was never supposed to. This film follows the formula of the fantastic first and although in many sequel cases this usually means that ideas are thin, in this movie however it works. From the rooftops to that phone-call it all blends together perfectly, working so well. Reprising the fans favourite, familiar elements from the first and bringing them into this story throws up the theme of drunk people making the same mistakes all over again. Still as these mistakes come correct this movie does the right thing, back up to it's old tricks. This is one of those 'yet again' hangovers that actually feels good and is welcome. Now you can drink to that. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
We pick 5 old films we watched this week for your consideration.
THE HANGOVER: With this weeks release of the hilarious 'The Hangover Part II' lets spend an night in with Stu, Phil and Alan and watch this original classic. Comedy, gross-out situations, movie homage send-ups and Las Vegas has never looked so good. Plus from babies to Mike Tyson cameos haven't been this classy either. This film threw up everything from audiences stomachs to the careers of Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis. Director Todd Phillips crafted another comedy classic that didn't take itself seriously at all. Stupid, silly, sick and sensational.
NINE MONTHS: Still if you prefer your comedies a little more family orientated...and I do mean just a little why not try this labour of love starring Hugh Grant at his floppy, bumbling best. As he and the beautiful Julianne Moore are expecting a baby your due for some laughs, especially when the comedic delivery of Robin Williams, Tom Arnold and Jeff Goldblum are on hand. Sure this is cheesy, but it's also a hilarious, nighties, feel-good classic. From 'Barney' the dinosaur rip-offs to the worse nightmares you could have Hugh goes through it all just to keep us laughing. Set perfectly in beautiful San Francisco, this film also looks the part and sure Hugh's drive dash down those famous hilly roads is no 'Bullitt' but one of the most hilarious shots comedy cameras has ever taken.
ZODIAC: let's stay in San Francisco but get serious for a second. One of the best crime-thrillers you'll see based on the true events of San Francisco's 'Zodiac' killer. Cold, chilling, tense and taught this drawn out film works as it's length mirrors the theme of the extensive, erratic killings and investigation. Just check the stunning time-lapse direction of the development of the Transamerica Pyramid building over the dark, deep Marvin Gaye classic 'Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)'. This film showed us that pretty-boy Jake Gyllenhall had the true grit for leading man acting, while born to play a cop Mark Ruffalo (see 'Shutter Island' and 'Collateral') was astounding as was excellent 'ER' actor Anthony Edwards. This film also brought back the uplifting Robert Downey Jnr before 'Iron Man' and 'Sherlock Holmes'. Enough evidence? Case closed. Seek it out.
DEJA VU: Denzel Washington as the good-natured, 'do the right thing', heroic leading man, haven't we seen this all before? In almost everyone of his movies, every year Mr. Washington brings this familiar, favourite character right when where fiending for him. Somehow as well it all feels fresh and new from the rest of the Hollywood fodder. This is because Denzel possess a one in a million, genuine quality and for that he really is the best actor of this generation and possibly the greatest black actor of all-time. This movie is so good it'd be most leading men's best, but with all of Washington's greats it gets lost somehow. That is until you find it out and watch. With Paula Patton and Jim Cavizel this Tony Scott great is another example of another classic director/actor combo.
A MAN APART: Right now Vin Diesel is still burning up the box office with his 'Fast Five' but this thinking mans tough guy still is more then this, the 'Riddick' and the 'xXx' franchises. In this underrated over-bearing action thriller, the master of the revenge picture gives a real performance. Playing a narcotics cop whose wife is murdered Vin really captures the emotion of a man apart perfectly and I bet you thought this man couldn't act...WRONG! Surely the more emotive scenes in this movie helped inspire the evolution of his character in the fourth and fifth 'Fast & Furious' movies. This actors got more under the hood then you think. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Sunday, 22 May 2011
This weeks 'DVD RACK' is a random selection of favourite films from one-of-a-kind, dynamic, versatile talent Johnny Depp, who is once again ruling the land with this weeks release of 'Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides'.
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL: The original and critically the best of the acclaimed franchise. Once this hit our shores, the adventure genre and fun at the cinema were redefined. With action that didn't take itself to seriously and comedy that didn't go too far this movie was the right, potent mix, plus the graphics where a treasure. Johnny Depp captained a crew stocked with talent that included Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley and Geoffrey Rush. The box-office competition sunk without a trace.
CHARLIE & THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY: Even with all the Gothic greats they've conjured up, this may be the strangest and most satisfying creations of all the perfectly peculiar collaborations between arguably the greatest director/actor combo Tim Burton and Johnny Depp. Depp is just so weirdly wonderful as Willy Wonka with a role so perfectly honed if it was anyone else it'd be hard not to be typecast. With all the cult characters Depp's played it's hard to imagine he could make yet another unique individual stand out, but here's the thing about Johnny; this individuals like no other he makes it all look so easy. The graphics, imagery and overall cinematography is surreal and sublime, while Burton's heralded dark direction is also magical and touching (a more overlooked trademark of the great filmmaker).
EDWARD SCISSORHANDS: The film that really put the '21 Jump Street' stars oddities on the map however along with that of director Tim Burton was the one about the boy with the scissors for hands who makes one hell of a landscape gardener (now how does he...?). Strange, scary, sweet and sad all at the same time, Depp and Burton found a new way to captivate audiences with their form of storytelling. The clinically cold suburban setting in this film and the refreshing starved movie industry in reality weren't ready for what hit them.
ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO: Sure 'Desperado' is the classic from Robert Rodriguez's 'Mariachi' trilogy but this ensemble piece was the most entertaining and exciting. With the coolest direction and sounding score this picture was top notch. Eva Mendes, Mickey Rourke, Willem DaFoe, Danny Trejo and even Enrique Igleasis rounded out an incredible cast led by desperately, effortlessly cool 'Desperado' Antonio Bandares. Still it was Depp's crooked cop and even more crooked villain that stole every scene the story and the show. If you thought he was calm, collected and cool under pressure just wait until you see how he handles himself and his predicament in the thrilling, third act. Go see it!
DONNIE BRASCO: When the perfect, past evoking, crime-caper 'Public Enemies' came out I always remember someone saying; "at last Johnny Depp playing someone normal". Well that fantastic film is worth checking out too but for the best of Depp's "normal" films look no further then 'Donnie Brasco'. This undercover classic about the true telling of a cop going undercover is great for it's incredible story but also the ability of a then younger/establishing Depp standing next to legend Al Pacino. It's hard to not be intimidated by such a classic actor or the threatening role he plays but Depp's performance and character more then holds it's own. If you can get past the gritty gangster elements and the stupid "are you calling me a dumbski" talk (gangsters really speak like that, then yes you are dumb (I better watch my back now)) this is a seriously significant piece of cinema. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Monday, 16 May 2011
Stranger but still saavy.
12A, 137 Minutes. Starring: Johnny Depp, Penélope Cruz, Ian McShane & Geoffrey Rush. Director: Rob Marshall. Screenplay: Terry Rossio & Ted Elliott
Are you ready to set sail with Captain Jack again? Well prepare yourself for a different course because it's all change on deck. First off Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley have abandoned ship but don't abandon hope as those mates go. There's a new heading and direction and it features zombies and mermaids and of course this franchises classic,charismatic captain; Johnny Depp.
In this fourth installment of the series Captain Jack is once again left asking what happened to his beloved pearl. Still this captain sans ship isn't without more problems. He's a wanted man in London, someones trying to impose on his legend and this time it is him who is pres-ganged to an evil pirates crew. Still at least he's on a ship, albeit captained by vicious pirate Blackbeard (played with heart by 'Lovejoy' Ian McShane) and his daughter and Sparrow's love interest (played by the beautiful Penelope Cruz). On this voyage Blackbeard and Captain Jack are in search for those maidens known as mermaids (though these ones are a far cry from the Disney one that hangs out with crabs, they look more like they've got a bit of 'Twilight' in them) and their years that will help the joys from the fountain of youth pour. Still their not the only ones concerned with looking less like Rod Stewart. The Spanish inquire to, while Captain Barbosa is back-well sort of-he doesn't appear all there as Geoffrey Rush has the opportunity to camp it up even more, looking more like he's keeping royal company by every 'Kings Speech'.
Johnny Depp is once again on top, effortless form as he continues to put Captain Jack Sparrow next to the superheroes as one of cinemas favourite and most popular characters. It's hard not to be moved to laughter by his physical comedy or smile at everything that comes out his mouth. He really does keep this film afloat. As does the great Penelope Cruz, who is an upgrade from Keira Knightley and the old testament of Ian McShane, whose magic sword wielding villain is just as sharp as Bill Nighy's Davey Jones. There is also a dynamic, albeit different supporting cast. While it's great to see Geoffrey Rush firmly back up deck and Keith Richards on hand for another rolling cameo, as is Judi Dench with a great, brief appearance from the Dame.
This film is enjoyably funny and swashbucklingy entertaining with plenty of one-liners and sword-fights to keep you on course. Still the problem with this 'Pirates' franchise is that there have been so many movies it's getting a bit too predictable. If 'Stranger Tides' was the second film instead of the brilliant 'Dead Man's Chest' you may be rocking with the best, but instead this whole brand is in threat of being sunk by the 'seen it all before' notion. Still however this voyage is a very good one even if the other expeditions where more epic. The film still is exciting, enjoyable and the beautiful locations make for one sought after movie. There is even talk of a fifth movie (hey the 'Fast & Furious' did it) but can this franchise raise the flag even more? It all depends on Johnny Depp and how far he's willing to take this ship. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
We pick 5 old films we watched this week for your consideration.
LUCKY NUMBER SLEVIN: This is the film that made Josh Hartnett's career. Playing Slevin he strikes career gold with a stellar, charismatic performance. This atypical thriller is slick and scarily tense with a great vintage feel. New York looks it's best as ever plus costume designers wardrobes have never look better (except that wallpaper like towel, still the female fans won't be disappointed). This A-List cast bring it's star game from Bruce Willis, to Morgan Freeman, Sir Ben Kingsley and Stanley Tucci. Still through all the stars, thrills, blood spills and bullets it's Hartnett's classic chemistry with Lucy Lui that sets this movie.
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN-DEAD MANS CHEST: With the latest installment of the Captain Jack series 'On Stranger Tides' released this week let's look at one of the best in the series. Sure the first one was the best but this one was where Depp and co really had fun. Light, enjoyable, swashbuckling and savvy this film was epic bridging the gap between the franchises beginning and peak. Plus the CGI to boot was real special, making Bill Nighy looking unrecognisable as squid faced Davey Jones, as all he had to turn up to on set with were his pajamas and effects. With a sublime score to boost, it all spoke volumes for Disney's diversity.
BLOOD DIAMOND: Forgive the slightly dodgy South African accent, for this is one of leading actor Leonardo DiCaprio's most defining performances. Epic, horrifically moving and thrillingly though-provoking it's... who really packs the punch however with his powerful passion. More Hollywood pictures should look at this genuinely concerned canvas for future references. As this movie captures the beauty of South Africa but the ugly truth's of it's blood diamonds that are lapped up by the Western world without consideration or care. They haven't, don't and probably won't make films like this again.
YOU, ME & DUPREE: The perfect comedy film for a lazy afternoon/evening. Owen Wilson is on top Notch form as Dupree; a lovable slob who needs to move in with Kate Hudson and Matt Dillon (who don't share these affections). From literal toilet humor to slapstick physical comedy this film is refreshingly hilarious and warm and uplifting for a movie of it's kind. Legend Michael Douglas and a then up and coming Seth Rogen round out a great cast.
TRAFFIC: Michael Douglas makes an appearance in this film, as does his wife and what seems like every actor going in this multi-story, truth scraping piece. Think 'Crash' but about the drug game. Harrowing, real, genuine and thought-provoking, sit up and listen cinema is rarely better then this (except 'Crash'). Cheadle comes in to his own in this movie as doe the rest of the cast, especially Benicio Del Toro. Powerful stuff. An unflinching look at drugs in modern-day America without that Hollywood shine. Michael Moore would be proud. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Sunday, 8 May 2011
16 BLOCKS: Real rapper Mos Def is on tour this week but the diversely talented man is as good as reading scripts as good as he is writing rhymes. Here he puts on a unique voice and twist to a character supporting another great Bruce Willis performance in '16 Blocks'. In this film Willis' character must battle alcohol addiction, age and his own men as he attempts to transport Mos' character across 16 New York City blocks to a courthouse. It would seem simple enough if everyone of New York's finest police force (led David Morse, who plays so any cops in films he should be one) wasn't after the pair. An action-packed, exciting thrill-ride that's also touching, you won't want to let it go.
IRON MAN: With the latest Avenger movie 'Thor' surprising and entertaining critics alike let's Marvel at another superhero classic. With his charisma and charm Robert Downey Jnr breathed new life into the genre with Gwyneth Paltrow by his faithful side. Hilarious and thrilling, the graphics and the action where sublime thanks to Jon Faverau's direction (he'll be missed). Speaking of those missed by the franchise Terrence Howard raised his and the films stock (although Don Cheadle got his 'next time baby'). While fan favourite Jeff Bridges (dude where's your hair?) made a surprisingly sinister, coldly convincing villain.
LOST IN TRANSLATION: With love to Japan, which was the perfect, beautiful setting for this atmospheric love story, Bill Murray and Scarlett Johannson came together as perfect polar opposites on the common ground of loneliness, isolation and bewilderment. Thought-provoking, deep, funny and touching this is classic, modern-day cinema at it's finest. You'll fall in love with this movie.
CITY OF ANGELS: Another great love story set perfectly in the incredible city of Los Angeles (for more ways then one). Meg Ryan and black coat wearing Nicholas Cage are the right cast in this moving motion picture which epitomises 90's cinema. It's aspects of nostalgia makes up for it's cornball elements, while it's light and Hollywood shine forgive it's darker themes. This guardian angel film is a great one to watch over.
THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMAN: While most action films these days pack on the violence, this enjoyable fantasy yarn makes everything else look like a farce. Sean Connery leads an extraordinary assembled cast of familiar characters including Dorian Gray and Jekyll and Hyde. The graphics are stunning and the set-pieces exciting, entertainment as it's finest. Plus, of course Connery bonds the cast together well with his legendary charm and wit, but it's 'ER' actor Shane West that steals the show...like he's supposed to.TIM DAVID HARVEY.
A cool, classy compilation you'll want to let get in the cars.
The 'Fast & Furious' franchise hasn't just given us an exciting and entertaining series of car films, it has also spawned a series of on track soundtracks which have pooled some brilliant songs. From rappers like Ludacris and Ja Rule offering quality tracks as well as cameo's ('Act A Fool' and 'Life Aint A Game' respectively) to an impressive array of D.J. and foreign rap talent (from D.J. Shadow and Mos Def's 'Six Day's' to the fourth and fifth instalments Don Omar and Tego Calderon's 'Bandaleros'). Now with 'Fast Five'; the latest and greatest part of the series, those behind the soundtrack match the film's speed with some choice torque tracks for the ride.
This collection starts and finishes strong as 'Fast Five' actor Don Omar joins the legendary rapper Busta Rhymes and Reek De Villain for the 'Fast Five Remix' of the huge, hot hit 'How We Roll'. Don Omar's credits don't end there however as he starts the celebration with the euphoric, upbeat 'Danza Kuduro' a hit, dance-floor ready party number. This album rolls and rolls through the hits to all the way to the brilliant climax 'F5 (Furiously Dangerous)', which also plays the film credits out. On this track 'Fast Five' and '2 Fast 2 Furious' favourite Ludacris handles the lyrical gears with rhyme genius Joe Budden (who also blessed the '2 Fast' soundtrack with his biggest hit 'Pump It Up') and his Slaughterhouse group riding passenger.
Soundtrack master Brian Tyler also scores big here with the tracks, 'Assembling The Team', 'Mad Skills' and 'Fast Five Suite'. The compose who uses car parts and other instruments to help make his music motors this compilation on with something different. The talent doesn't stop there however as up and coming producer Hybrid collects a range of seriously stellar scores. From his swooping 'Han Drifting' music to his positive correlation with Edu K on the 'Million Dollar Race' scenes music. Hybrid also lifts the hood on Speed's 'Follow Me, Follow Me (Quem Que Caguetou?)' putting nitro in the engine, for a fuel injected, high octane remix.
Hybrid isn't the only up and coming talent here as the stars clear the lane for others to shine on this disc. Marcelo D2 & Claudia bring fresh and fun sounds to one of 'Fast & Furious 5's' most memorable scenes (trust me on this one guys). While MV Bill makes other rappers envy he on the most valuable 'L. Gelada-3 Da Madrugada' which sounds good in any translation. As does the darker 'Batalha' By ObandO which is talking the right language for this movies more sinister scenes. Still one of the albums high points steps out the rap vocal booth as Carlinhos Brown's 'Carlito Marron' gives the perfect shining, Latin flavour to this film set in the Brazilian city of Rio De Janeiro.
Overall just like the movie 'Fast Five's' soundtrack set is the best yet. It may not have the biggest hits, but it is the most consistent, playing like a cohesive set with no skipping or shuffling required. The soundtrack's success is not only capturing the flavour of the sound of Rio-with celebratory tracks ready for Madi Gras-but also in keeping some influence from the sounds of the legendary locations where the other films where set (Los Angeles, Miami, Tokyo and Mexico). Sure after his fun 'Pick Up The Phone' song from '2 Fast 2 Furious' it's a shame we've been disconnected from a track from returning actor/singer Tyrese. Still as brilliant as his vocal talents are the tone of this CD doesn't really call for R&B. What it does call up though is a truck load of unique and diverse up and coming talent. As the biggest names are saved for the film where still left with plenty in the tank as the young, raw talent fuels the fresh sounds of this soundtrack. The perfect accompaniment to this motion picture, the sounds coming out this rides speakers keep this record and this film spinning. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Saturday, 7 May 2011
A thunderous, Thor-de-force.
12A, 130 Minutes. Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Stellan Skarsgård, Jamie Alerxander, Rene Russo & Idris Elba. Director: Kenneth Branagh. Screenplay: Ashley Edward Miller, Zack Stentz & Don Payne
By now you'll know what to expect from the Marvel franchise and it's budding Avenger series. Comic humor and action? Check! References to other movies? Check! Hilarious Stan Lee cameo's? Your damn right...check! Still anyone going into this film expecting the same old stuff, with their arms folded in prepared disappointment will be pleasantly surprised. Not that there's anything wrong with the other Marvel Films (they are great) but with all the sub-Avenger films and other superhero reboots coming out it's hard not to be geeked out (in the wrong way) with all this comic-book carnage. That is until you take in the excitement of 'Thor'.
OK so you may be familiar with the mythical or comic book story of 'Thor' (and let's face it both are treated like ancient text), but here's the skinny on the story of the God that's so ripped he looks like the dudes from '300' on steroids. So Thor's about to be named king by his father Odin (Hopkins) much to his brother Loki's dismay and jealousy, but then some frost giants (who look like some dodgy 'Star Trek' villains) attempt to steal their confiscated bio-frost (which sounds like some sort of detergent). So Thor armed wit his new vanity and arrogance seeks revenge much to his fathers disapproval.
This leads to his banishment to earth, where Thor is found by a research team led by Natalie Portman. This leads to some hilarious and peculiar happenings as Thor finds it hard to get to grips with coffee house etiquette and transportation means. Still if you think he's got problems back home his father's stress has led him to fall into a deep 'Odinsleep' (nice to have a type of sleep named after you hey?) which leads to the scheming Loki literally and figuratively assuming the throne. This leads to more problems for Thor as both his world and his new one are under serious threat, but can he get his Excalibur on and hammer down these problems?
This is some ridiculously good yarn wrapped up by director Branagh (who better for this, really) in all it's epic, loud Brian Blessed bravado. As entertaining as it is surprising this film is primed to storm the pre-summer blockbuster season no matter how 'Fast and Furious' it is. This film has realms of talent. After an impressive cameo in 'Star Trek', Chris Hemsworth bulks and beefs up beyond belief for a meaty role. While 'Black Swan' Oscar winner Natalie Portman spreads her wings and steps into Marvel's Gwyneth Paltrow type roll perfectly as the strong female lead. Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings also make the perfect team for her but Loki is not a good ally for his brother Thor and Tom Hiddleston plays this perfectly. Thor also has some friendly, funny and fantastic support from friends led by the beautiful and talented Jamie Alexander. Even though there in smaller roles new and established favourite talents Idris Elba and Rene Russo but in strong plays to help make this film that much bigger. Still it's legendary talent Anthony Hopkins who was born for his role as Odin, hamming it up and playing it perfectly to a tee.
Graphically speaking this movie is stunning and content wise it's suitable for adults and young kings. With some introductions to other Avenger characters in cameo's and some other movie references to Marvel at this film keeps both this franchise and series going. Exciting and funny this is pure entertainment and the mix between fantasy and real world works showing that this film doesn't treat itself so seriously. From the pomp and extravagance of the fantasy world to the easy going, small-town circumstance of the real world. It's this right mix and the fun, action-packed thrill-ride of this film that will extend this avenging franchises reign, leading fans to proclaim like 'Thor' after a drink for 'ANOOOOTHEEEERR'! TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Sunday, 1 May 2011
We pick 5 old films we watched this week for your consideration. This week my personal top 5 favourite films.
THE DARK KNIGHT: The greatest Batman and sequel of all time was an instant classic thanks to the late Ledger's legendary performance that re-defined the comic books character. Still this movies legacy also belongs to Nolan's dark direction, Bale's best Batman and Eckhart. Playing a hero living long enough to become a villain, Eckhart had inspiring integrity as Dent, then criminal coldness as Two-Face. A ground-breaking great. 'Rises' won't be the same without Ledger or Eckhart.
THE UNTOUCHABLES: Complete, classic cinema. If you ever wanted to know why Kevin Costner became so good. Or just how hot the young, talented Andy Garcia was. Or just how Sean Connery got a second, Paul Newman successful career after Bond. Or just how deep De Niro's classic roles go, touch on this timeless, dramatic action thriller. Costner plays Elliott Ness in the true story of how his police force brought down notorious gangster Al Capone (De Niro). The action is acclaimed, the drama moving and the historical setting perfectly done in 1930's Chicago. Another thing this epic movie is is tense, just check into the train station scene for your ticket to this ride. There you will see movie moments that will live in cinematic history.
COLLATERAL: Action thrillers don't get more tense and exciting then this. The master of celluloid Michael Mann directs a perfect movie that brought the Richard Gere and the best out of Tom Cruise and along with 'Ray' made Jamie Foxx an all-round star and double Oscar nominee. Action and gunfights haven't been this hot since Mann's 'Heat' and in the confides of a taxi-cab the drama and tension between Cruise's hitman and Foxx's driver is perfectly taught. Mann also handpicked a right soundscape and captured the haunting, beautiful, futuristic yet isolated feeling of downtown Los Angeles perfectly on digital cameras. Mark Ruffalo, Jada Pinkett Smith also offer stellar support.
ALI: Will Smith wasn't robbed the Oscar (Denzel schooled everyone with 'Training Day'), but he was robbed the respect. People may have thought his unique personality couldn't capture another so in kind, but Smith really channeled Muhammad Ali perfectly from the impressive speech and mannerisms to the impossible dedication and weight gain. In the actors finest and most underrated performance this lost classic was epic. Another DVD choice in this rack directed distinctly by Michael Mann, this picture helped develop a working relationship between Mann and Jamie Foxx (that lead to another classic referenced here) following a breakthrough, incredible performance from Jamie as Bundini. Jon Voight was also unrecognisably unique as Howard Cossell. Also giving this film weight was it's sublimely soulful soundtrack (the Sam Cooke intro is just so uplifting and inspiring) and the fight scenes which are the best ever seen in cinema...yeah I said it. This film rolls with the strongest of punches.
DOG DAY AFTERNOON: A true story where a man robs a bank to finance his gay lovers sex change. You know this movies something else. In one of Al Pacino's best ever roles the young actor really displayed his depth and range with this 70's classic. Dramatic but hilarious, tense but touching, this movie is both timeless in it's classic nature and ground-breaking in it's before it's time stature. Al Pacino really had his day with this one. Amongst all his other legendary roles and it's controversy this film has become somewhat lost. You may not have heard of it, but by the time you've finished watching you'll want to tell everybody what you've just seen. Witness the perfect crime. TIM DAVID HARVEY.