Sunday, 30 October 2011
15, 101 Minutes. Starring: Ryan Gosling, George Clooney, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Marisa Tomei, Jeffrey Wright & Evan Rachel Wood. Director: George Clooney. Screenwriter: George Clooney,Grant Heslov & Beau Willimon.
Politics is a dirty game and Ryan Gosling, Paul Giamatti, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood and Jeffrey Wright all campaign for this in George Clooney's new political thriller based on the book 'Farragut North' by Beau Willimon. If you loved 'Michael Clayton' than be aware of 'The Ides Of March' perfectly placed this November, a year before the big election month. This movie is just the ticket coming in this fall to hit the ballot for best movie of the year. It's got our vote.
This clinically cold chiller is slick, stylish and shot sublimely. Clooney's charisma and charm offers his Senator character a chance at presidency, riding on the campaign trail of a Kennedy and Obama esque change. Still it's Gosling who is pulling all the strings like Don Corleone, looking Clooney cool, calm and collected on the surface but working hard underneath the surface like a swan. This cabinet is full of even more talent. Marisa Tomei, Jeffrey Wright and Evan Rachel Wood are great supporting cast additions that make this Clooney Administration that much stronger. In addition the trail off talent is helped and certified by current leading A-lister Leonardo DiCaprio who casts his ballot as executive producer. Still the real power move is bringing in fellow Oscar certified, middle-aged, in their prime, like-minded legends Paul Giamatti and Phillip Seymour Hoffman to the fold. These two heavyweights pack an emotional punch and bring more dialogue debate to this dramatic thriller that chooses a suit and a tie over guns and explosions for its action.
The thing about this thriller is that it twists and turns through greed, blackmail, dishonor and betrayal so much that it goes beyond politics as usual and heads towards classic cinema. Just when you think things are on the up and up, things take a dip. This is all directed extremely well, one camera shot of a discussion in a car is so taught and tense you think someones going to get shot...don't worry though its much worse than that and for the better of the picture. As the drama is turned up a notch, who needs violence when we've got grown men shouting and staring each other down? These are the true battles for power.
Clooney is formidable even if his character takes the background. Still, this is his picture in front of and behind the lens. It's Gosling who's in the forefront however even though his character works behind Clooney's scenes. You can even see from the innovative and impressive 'Time' Magazine film poster that the faces are changing. Gosling takes over this picture with his vision to be the next great cover-boy, A-lister. He brings the charisma and charm that won him over in 'Crazy, Stupid, Love' and the sinister, silent-treatment acting that made him and 'Drive' huge. Now putting this all together and motoring forward he gives his best performance of his incredible year, if not his career. Hollywood may still be Clooney's world, but over the next four years people will be chanting Ryan Gosling's name more. Soon this elect will enter the elite of presidential leading men. Right now the polls are his and this is just the primary. Just wait for his election day. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
12A, 131 Minutes. Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Rose Byrne.
January Jones, Jennifer Lawrence, Zoë Kravitz, Oliver Platt & Kevin Bacon. Director: Matthew Vaughn. Screenplay: Ashley Edward Miller, Zack Stentz, Jane Goldman & Matthew Vaughn
Taking the competition back to superhero-movie-making school.
Superhero movies have been taking off as a Summer blockbuster staple for many a season now. Still as ideas for popcorn movies get thinner in Hollywood (hey, they can only do so much) prequels and reboots seem to be trending more then a Charlie Sheen Twitter topic. Fashioning the time between the Spring ('Fast Five') and Summer ('Transformers: Dark Side Of The Moon') biggest blockbusters comes 'X-Men: First Class'. Following the success of the the terrific trilogy and the wonderful 'Wolverine' prequel comes another, beginning, 'coming of age' story from the 'Origins' series.
In this movie we are taken back to the old days (the 60's to be exact) when Kennedy was president and Professor X and Magneto where Charles and Erik and the best of friends, before they got old and ended up looking like Captain Picard and Gandalf. Before battling each other together they had to battle the threat of nuclear war, the humans acceptance of mutants and their own personal demons, not to mention Kevin Bacon and his meatier, meaner mutants . Most 'Wanted' Scottish actor James McAvoy and 'Inglorious Basterds' scene stealer Michael Fassbender play Xavier and Magneto respectively perfectly, with all due respect to the elder statesmen Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian Mckellen. Doing justice to the legendary actors they carve their own lasting legacy in this super Matthew Vaughn film. From classic Vegas to outstanding Oxford there is a timeless quality to this picture that is in all the right locations.
Bar a few mutated misfires and characters that look like the love child of Papa Smurf and the more hairier member of 'Harry and the Henderson's' this film, looks and feels great, almost tipping the trilogy (still, the 'Wolverine' movie claws the competition. From hilarious, classic cameos to homages to other movies like 'Basic Instinct' this has it all. Awesome action, engaging effects, sensational set-pieces, determined dialogues, fantastic fun, actual acting and helpings of heart. This 'First Class' picture is truly top notch.
McAvoy and Fassbender aren't alone. Bacon is brilliant as always in the villain role. While the beautiful wonder women in this hero piece almost take all the glory. Woman of the moment Rose Byrne (with this 'Insidious' and 'Bridesmaids' she played in three major back-to-back trailers recently) is sexy, stylish but most of all serious in a sublime role as a CIA agent. Even without a super-mutation her character still powers through. The born-for-the-big time January Jones is also getting better by the month, 'Mad Men' series' and movie with a classic femme-fatale character. Jennifer Lawrence also brings another, deeper side to Raven, while the rest of the magnificent mutants (acknowledgment also due to developed performances from Edi Gathegi and Jason Flemyng) are led by Zoë Kravitz. The daughter of Lenny rocks. We have another star in the making.
You don't have to be telepathic to tell I like this movie (and it took awhile for me to warm to this hot franchise) and a brotherhood of mutant fans would also tell you that this is a hell-fire, heaven sent movie that pays homage and respect to the classics from the celluloid's to the comic strips. Now if only they could make more like this. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
The leading man of the United States 'Rome's' around Europe.
15, 105 Minutes. Starring: George Clooney, Violante Placido, Thekla Reuten, Paolo Bonacelli, Irina Bjorklund, Bjorn Granath, Johan Leysen, Filippo Timi. Director: Anton Corbijn. Screenwriter: Rowan Joffe.
As George Clooney adds more stamps to his passport 'The American' on the outside looks like an excuse for the housewives favourite sexiest man alive to get his Chevy Chase on and take a European vacation between work. Still, however if you take a look inside this picture you'll see that it is in fact another great Clooney film to add to the collection as the leading man furthers his legend.
In this modern day George Clooney may be the closest thing we have to Cary Grant. The similarities to the classic star and the modern day hero are apparent. Even the score and the poster of 'The American' is a throwback to vintage cinema art and promotion. While the black and white image of a running Clooney on the billboard is almost has shades of 'North By Northwest'. Quite fitting for a man who might play Robert Vaughans (a man who looked like the next Cary Grant) role in an upcoming 'The Man From U.N.C.L.E' film.
This American and his film however are as individual and original as they come. With Clooney taking lead and production credits he looks to repeat on the classic status of 'Michael Clayton' with another deep dramatic thriller delving into characters with conflict and a troubled human nature. 'The American' centres around George Clooney's hit man character, who is in Italy for one last job where he has to construct a rifle but apparently doesn't even have to pull the trigger (we'll see). It is apparent however that the hunter has become the hunter and death isn't the only thing this assassin has been marked for. He's the target of love too.
What results is a rich tapestry of classic writing, direction and acting in a moody and atmospheric piece. This slow burner ignites from the start all the way to the last billow of smoke. The tension of this picture is pulled from the first brutally beautiful, frozen frame of the snowy wilderness and tightens all the way to the thrilling and anxious climax. Sure this film is slow and if you don't stay with it you may get lost in your own thoughts but like a great novel (and this film is based around a brilliant one ('A Very Private Gentleman')) it's best to keep reading into this. Each frame is directed and shot perfectly, the Italian scenery is beautiful but also captures the protagonists loneliness and isolation. These are perfectly depicted by Clooneys espresso (or should I say Nespresso) for one moments in Italian coffee bars that are as lonely and evokingly reminiscent of Edward Hoppers 'Nighthawk' painting.
The drama and the action is clinical and calculated but still the entertainment multiplies being just what a Clooney fan ordered. Whilst the romance is as real and evoking as the women in this picture. As the drama builds you know this is Clooney's domain and again he delivers. Just like 'Michael Clayton' this is a study of a character with his back against the wall and just like Clooney himself the character responds with class. There's even a scene similar to the closer of 'Clayton' where Clooney is head on with the camera as the direction goes through the motion of his changing emotion and expression perfectly.
The cold, dark, side streets of Rome provide the right backdrop for some perfect action set pieces. It also looks like Clooney took a 'Bourne' crash course lesson on cold killing from his 'Oceans' friend Matt Damon. Where as in contrast the beautiful sunny, pretty as a Picasso picture scenery of the Italian countryside provide the best setting for some of the films more touching and poignant moments. These stark contrasts help develop the impersonal assassin side and just a man personal side of Clooneys character. What results is one of the deepest stories from an actor who refuses to tread shallow water. George Clooney once again takes his time with this picture like art and you can see the master of his creation in every stroke. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Saturday, 29 October 2011
One real stand up guy.
John Leguizamo has always had the talent and charisma to steal the show. Whether it be from Leo DiCaprio in Baz Lurhman's 'Romeo + Juliet', or the T.V. screens via a cameo in the classic medical drama 'ER'. So now the spotlight shines back on him this month as he takes his first love of theatre to the West End in London. John's unique, one-of-a-kind, one man show of stand-up style storytelling and dance has been a hit on Broadway and this Hispanic talent from New York is lighting up London town for 17 brief, but brilliant nights.
The quaint but quintessential Charring Cross Theatre under the underground houses John's performance and beside the passing trains above the venue makes for a perfect backdrop for the coming up, coming of age story of a successful actor. Following stage classics like 'Freak' and 'Mambo Mouth' Leguizamo dives into 'Ghetto Klown'. A show and tell that looks at how he made it in life and the industry of stage and screen. Via some hilarious and homage filled videos John dances his way through the decades much to the audiences delight and his obvious 'B-Boy' talent. As he opens up, this autobiographical piece is personal but by no means selfish. As Leguizamo gives his all to the crowd he interacts with laughs and life gaffes.
No holes are barred here as this versatile talent presents himself at his most valiant and his most vulnerable. John gets up close and personal with the crowd, even dancing among it. From perfect impressions of industry folk to hilarious family stories this actor gives us real accounts with his genuine charisma and charm. From being repeatedly slapped by Sean Penn to being kicked by Steven Segal it's clear this mans seen it all and been through it all. The recurring themes and well thought out one-liners tie all this together as seamlessly as an episode of 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'.
This 'Ghetto Klown' talks for 2 hours with intermission, but really all night you could listen to his stories by the talented way he tells them. From shooting Pacino in 'Carlito's Way' to shooting his career in the foot with 'Super Mario Bros' this performance is a hit...you'll die laughing. Still Leguizamo doesn't just tickle the audiences funny bone with his laugh out loud, social storytelling he also touches us with his humble, honest performance. At first you would think it was the work of a great actor, but this great actor is giving us the real him. Hearing about the older generations of Leguizamo's could move you to tears.
Either way there's not a dry eye in the house with these laughs. If you don't make a date to see one of these shows you won't laugh now and you will cry later because one of America's funniest, most stand up guys is getting real theatrical starting right in the West End. Passionate and punchline perfect you better catch 'Johnny Legs' before his 17 day run is over. It's time to direct your attention to one of the best characters and supporting actors in Hollywood as he performs his life script. Stick with it to hear a real story from a genuine talent. Now that's theatre. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Friday, 21 October 2011
An epic endemic..
12A, 106 Minutes. Starring: Marion Cotillard, Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet & Demetri Martin. Director: Steven Soderbergh. Screenplay: Scott Z. Burns
There's something in the sweet and sour chicken. If you really want to scare yourself this Friday then forget 'Paranormal Activity 3' and go see 'Contagion' a flu-ridden film that's spreading like wildfire and will really leave people more paranoid at things that cough, rather than go bump in the night. What's most scary is what you don't see and as the virus spreads into a silent killer this bacteria causes more white faces than the bogeyman. Halloween's horror show has just knocked on our doors. Trick or treat?
This ensemble piece is lead by many big-name stars. No one is immune in this picture. Take your pick to who leads. Matt Damon brings his A-game acting and marketability to the fold. While leading ladies Gwnyeth Paltrow and Kate Winslet add more great performance to their clean, classic bill of credits. Jude Law also gets his word out as a blogger. While French actress Marion Cotillard also increases her star stock inbetween her twin Christopher Nolan movies, last years 'Inception' and next years 'The Dark Knight Rises'. It's Laurence Fishburne that really stands out however with his unique, one of a kind talent that injects adrenaline into the arm of this picture. Now if that isn't enough famous faces, how about adding Bryan Cranston and Elliott Gould (who here calls blogging "graffiti with punctuation", but hey we love him and he's probably right) to the mix?
As the deadly virus spreads, so does the panic...and of course the looting. As we are whisked around the world from Minnesota to London, by way of Hong Kong and all the way back to Chicago we see just how quick and easy flu and fear can transfer and multiply. With some serious silent montages and an unimposing soundtrack this almost feels like a public service information film and its time some of our dismissals got educated to just how bad things could get. That's how good this movie is.
Rest assured though this is just a movie, but master of the slow burner director Steven Soderbergh gives us calm drama in a clinical, precise piece, whose tone matches its theme. The dramatics are by no means amateur, the acting is understated but emotive in the overbearing nature of the subject. Yet again we see just how good Matt Damon is in the face of bad news. Apart from an unnecessary autopsy, this film gets it right on all counts. It may be unnerving and in some points not very enjoyable, but it's thought-provoking and necessary. This is subtle yet potent and powerful stuff that really is contagious. As Hollywood catches on with some socially conscious commentary it's time we took note. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Thursday, 20 October 2011
Something different for the 'buddy cop' genre.
12A, 107 Minutes. Starring Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Keaton, Eva Mendes & Steve Coogan. Director: Adam McKay.
I was having a conversation the other day where my buddy moaned about how all Will Ferrell does in his movies is shout, say random things and throw up a lot and I replied 'I know, great huh?'. Buddies Will Ferrell and director Adam McKay have been making people laugh for years, gaining more and more fans in the process, whether anchoring them in, breaking the ice or stepping it up. Even on their website funnyordie.com, Ferrell and McKay keep the laughs going steady on the highway. Now taking it to the police the pair force laughs out of us even more with this hilarious new buddy cop movie.
The 'guys' in this picture really are the men. Samuel L. Jackson and The Rock...excuse me Dwayne Johnson are the best cops in the city. Cocky, charismatic and cool. They are everything everyone in New York and the New York Police Department want to be but when something comes up (and down) it's up to 'The Other Guys' to take the law into their own hands. To the misfortune of the city of New York and the chief of police/chief of Bed Bath & Beyond (played hilariously by Michael Keaton) these other guys are Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg.
Now these 'other guys' investigate the suspect financial dealings and goings on of Steve Coogan who provides some hilarious moments and brides. In between all this police work Ferrell and Wahlberg try to keep their love life in check. Ferrell obviously needing a new prescription on those 80's cop glasses to think his wife Eva Mendes is just 'plain' and Wahlberg trys to win back his ex with dance moves that would floor his New Kids On The Block brother. Also both partners must confront their own demons from the past. Walhberg's arising from getting a bit too protective with a New York Yankee legend and Ferrell's in the form of a dark past in the 'dating service' business.
Nobody likes to have the punchline given away before a joke is told so lets just say is if you want to see the best gags and one liners from a Ferrell/McKay since 'Anchorman' than bring some tape for your sides when watching this movie. With jokes ranging from Scarface's Kleenex issues to specific types of seaweed those sides are gonna split more times than the back of The Rock's shirts. Plus the randomness of this film also ranges from finely polished wood to TLC references to name just the tip of the random iceberg that is Will Ferrell and Adam McKay's mind. The action in this movie is top notch to bettering even some action movies out now. There's even some thrilling car chases with a Prius (which handles beautifully by the way) which also doubles up as the perfect 'family' car.
The support in this film fits like a sports bra. Coogan, Keaton, Jackson and Johnson are on top form and as for Eva Mendes...need I say anymore but DAAAAAAMN!!! Unprofessional I know but if you think that's bad check out Mark Wahlbergs reaction to her. There is also rib feather dusting performances from rising talents Rob Riggle (another great catch from 'The Daily Show' talent pool) and Damon Wayans Jnr (Dave Chappelle was right there is more of them) from one of Hollywood's funniest families. The film is also narrated by rapper Ice T, who ironically is a perfect choice despite once writing a curious ditty entitled 'Cop Killer'. Overall this ensemble piece is as reliable as a Prius (you've gotta love two Prius related plugs in one review) and is more than just the pick of the week. This film beats out all 'the other films' out there right now so don't cop out on this one. TIM DAVID HARVEY
Friday, 14 October 2011
Ryan Reynolds and Rodrigo Cortés leave other suspense thrillers six feet under.
15, 95 Minutes. Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Robert Paterson, Jose Luis Garcia Perez & Erik Palladino. Director: Rodrigo Cortés
Buried alive or drowned? Sick as it sounds we've all talked about it. Well now you can see how being buried alive in a coffin could play out in a movie because lets face it there wouldn't be much breathing room for dialogue in a film called 'Drowned'. Rodrigo Cortés give us a claustrophobic, intense perception of how someone may fare in 'Buried', a Spanish-Australian indie thriller-horror film. The unlucky soul in this 'situation' (an understatement which is used a lot in this movie) is Paul Conroy, a truck driver played by Ryan Reynolds, who is going to need more than a Green Lantern to see his way through this one.
Paul wakes up in his new wooden home after being ambushed by insurgents while working out in Iraq. He has little space and little help. Just a zippo lighter, a knife and a cell phone. Well at least he can see and talk because otherwise we would be in for a long hour and a half. These 90 odd minutes however fly by as this bold one man show works. It's suspenseful, gripping and at times it's funny, moving and scary. It gives the audience all the same emotions that the main character would feel. It works the way a perfect movie should. Your put in Paul Conroy's shoes or more aptly here, his place.
As Paul begins to realise that 911, the FBI, his friends and his work are no use it's up to him to abide to the 'Don't call us, we'll call you' let down code. As Conroy's captors ring they make their demands known. They want a million by 9PM or they wont help him. Conroy is forced to make a ransom video as he is running out of both time and space. There's a lot more than meets the eye that's going on but all Ryan Reynolds wants to do is go back home and I don't blame him with a (ex) wife like Scarlett Johansson.
'Buried' is Hitchcock inspired and minus a few things it's a classic in it's own right. No film this year puts you in it's place as much as this one. It's tenser than most horror movies and will literally leave you on the edge of your seats, save the other strap line half-truths from other films. This film really does capture you from start to finish. Things like the old zippo lighter flicking on and off and the condensed noises really add to the genuine feeling of intense drama. The camera angles are really well done but maybe a few more tricks or even basic principles would of enhanced the feeling of desperation and fear even more.
Superhero movie man of the moment Ryan Reynolds puts in a career performance, despite normally being a light-hearted guy that reminds you of Dane Cook (and I think in this scenario Reynolds would rather face those killer horses). Reynolds is believable and on the tip top of his acting game with a performance to die for. To think Reynolds was merely in a studio is what is unbelievable because he sells this so well. He handles himself extremely well, especially when hilariously dealing with an annoying friend of his wife's.
Overall Reynolds and Cortés manage not only to keep the audiences suspense but their interest in this picture. The scene may have been easily set but for the drama and story to unfold properly the film had to make the best use of the space it had to work with and it did that with little room for improvement.Even if it was an extra half hour long it still wouldn't feel stretched out. The fact that the acting and the direction of this film is so evocative that it makes drama out of one principal character in one place redefines modern cinema. It triumphs where movies like 'Open Water' failed. You can bet your life on this one that this film wont be lost underneath all the rest out right now. Somewhere Hitchcock is smiling, not turning in his grave. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Owen Wilson's still 'so hot right now'!
By Tim David Harvey
Hollywood, it sure can be a m***********! Embracing and replacing all at the same time. Simply you either make it in this town or you don't. A couple of years ago one of this towns brightest and best stars suffered one of his worse and darkest days. Now understand this is not the topic of discussion here. That past part of this mans life is private and out of respect it will remain that here. Still now Owen Wilson is back in the public eye in a view brighter then ever it just shows and proves one notion true, you can't keep a good man down.
Whether sharing screen time with Stiller or Chan or going 'Beyond Enemy Lines' and his acting comfort zone, Wilson has always shined his brightest and worked his hardest. The charming, charismatic talent has been a favourite for the fellas in buddy comedies and a hit with the ladies in rom-coms. The approachable, boy next door, one of the guys persona has helped him line the silver screens with movie gold for years. From crashing weddings to hanging out with you and me as 'Dupree', Owen has owned comedies with his warmth and class. Just like Vince Vaughn's improv, or Will Ferrell's out-right craziness, this frat-pack member has his own signature style. That being the quirky, distinct, yet all-round nice guy that gets along with everybody.
This individual is unique, but no acquired taste, he's loved by all. Sure his young brother Luke is admired two, but big brother comes first. With that great versatile, ability of switching between off-beat comedies that are smart ('The Darjeeling Limited') and stupid ('Zoolander'...actually quite smart when you think about it), this clever character is dumb with talent. His open persona allows him to light up the screen and tackle any role all at the same time. This man can do anything and after enduring everything, he's now firmly back in business about to show a fickle, forgetful world of movies that he really is something.
After impressive turns in 'Drillbit Taylor', 'The Darjeeling Limited' and a cameo in 'Fantastic Mr. Fox', Wilson's work has remained sporadic. That all changed however when he talked like a dog in 'Marmaduke', a film that was a hit like 'Marley & Me' before it. Then it was time to 'Meet The Parent's' again. 'Little Fockers' was a hit and Owen was cast a bigger role like in the first movie, and again Owen owned every scene but had the diligence not to steal the show. A mark of a true professional. Now the world was watching Owen Wilson again. Wilson also built a foundation last fall with 'How Do You Know' alongside, like minded, likable character, Paul Rudd, Reese Witherspoon and Jack Nicholson, who was reunited with the guys that brought you 'As Good As It Gets'.
Things do look to get even better then this for Wilson however. If you thought 2010 was a comeback, then 2011 has made make Owen, once, twice, three times a leading man. The fall of 2010 was his return, but 2011 has been his year. This year the franchise guy once again lent his distinct drawl and one-of-a-kind vocal talents to the huge Summer smash; 'Cars 2', as he kept another one of his popular series' motoring on. Still it's the buddy comedy 'Hall Pass' with Jason Sudeikis, that showed his true return to form, being one of the funniest films Wilson's been in since he walked down the aisle with Vince Vaughn. Wilson scored big again-in more ways then one-with another runaway, surprise hit. The film was about two guys given a one week, 'Hall Pass' by their wives to do anything they want. This film delivered everything we've asked for from a Wilson picture and apart from some 'Horrible Bosses' and 'Friends With Benefits' was the best comedy of this year, surviving 'The Hangover II' and some 'Bridesmaids'. Owen also marked Cannes as a destination this year, as him, Woody Allen and a crop of Hollywood talent including Rachael McAdams and Adrien Brody went to France for the beautiful comedy'Midnight In Paris'. This ensemble film has sealed Owen's great run through 2010/2011 with a French kiss.
Then who knows what's next for the dynamic and diverse talent. Sure there will probably be no 'I Spy 2', (sorry Eddie) but you can still expect more from the man has played the perfect part in many great films. Whether it be his Chris Tucker to Jackie Chan in 'Shanghai Noon' and 'Shanghai Knights', his scene stealing role in 'The Royal Tenenbaums' or his ensemble in 'Armageddon'. You can also count on more collaborations with close friend, Ben Stiller. Their charm and chemistry has been set over 10 films and although the two guys could co-star with anyone if they wanted to, there's nothing quite like when they lead together. They've made good on all sorts of sequels, even with the 'Night At The Museum' project and the hotly anticipated 'Zoolander 2' is in the works. Now if we could just get a 'Starsky & Hutch' series crashing through the boxes.
Sure Wilson has kept working since his turbulent time in 2007, and with a high quality too, but right now the man is looking as hot as he's ever been right now. It's not about him being back in fashion like his Hansel character in 'Zoolander', its about him being back where he wants to be. The pure entertainer is back making people laugh and smile with his warmth once again. He's also just become a Dad, which is one part of his personal life we can shout about and celebrate. So congratulations to Owen Wilson and it sure is good to have him back. Nice guys don't always finish last.
Saturday, 8 October 2011
Expect hilarity this week.
15, 95 Minutes. Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Zach Galifanakis, Michelle Monaghan, Juliette Lewis, Danny McBride, Jamie Foxx. Director: Todd Phillips. Writer: Todd Phillips, Alan R. Cohen, Alan Freedland & Adam Sztykiel
It's hard to find one funny thing about this film...and that's because there's too many rib tickling moments in this modern farce where Robert Downey Jnr, Zach Galifanakis and Todd Phillips do it again with the feather dusters.
If you've watched the classic 'The Hangover' too much than take two of it's stars and call us in the morning because director Todd Phillips and breakout star Zach Galafanakis prove that striking lightening twice is no headache. The rising start show their far from under the weather of pressure as they deliver another hilarious hit. A comedy that feels like 'The Hangover' meets the timeless 80's classic 'Planes, Trains & Automobiles'.
In this modern esque tale Galifanakis adopts the lovably annoying character persona of John Candy, while Robert Downey Jnr shadows the over-worked, grumpy Steve Martin character that just wants to get home to his (growing) family. Although 'Due Date' is a brilliant homage to a classic formula, realise it is it's own film also. This is no carbon copy that would head Due South this is a film that is classic and stands next to 'Planes, Trains & Automobiles' in it's own right and worth just like the legendary 'Uncle Buck'.
The one of a kind Galifanakis-like comedy legend John Candy-has what seems like a million scene stealing moments all throughout this picture but still the ever appealing Downey Jnr holds his own in every scene. Roberts charm is ever present here, even when playing a character that is a few 'a' words stronger than arrogant.
Fans of classic, John Hughes, 80's family comedy must be aware, especially if they haven't seen 'The Hangover' because Todd Phillips may be 'Old School' but his brand of humour isn't 'Planes, Trains & Automobiles'. Yet again Todd armed with his unlikely poster child Galafanakis pushes the comedy envelope and boundaries without distancing himself or needing to yell 'cut'. This sick comedy is still healthy and not in need of a shot during flu season. Still despite these differences this film has some overdue touching moments from Todd Phillips that feel almost classic John Hughes. As this director is coming in to his own he clearly respects the legends.
There are moments in this movie where you will be left with an Ed Helms like reaction in 'The Hangover' to Galifanakis' use of a babies hand. It's shameful but oh so funny in moments. Who would of thought this evening you'd be laughing at child abuse or animal cruelty. Seriously though only in this movie are jokes so close to the bone pulled off by the skin of everyones cringing teeth. There's no skeletons in the closet in this movie and to reveal too many of the jokes in this gem would turn this review into a spoiler but rest assured you'll die laughing ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
Although 'Due Date's' two men and their dog are enough to keep up appearances it's the movies cameo's that stage a brilliant run to the final curtain. Juliette Lewis is at her usual top form and it's good to see 'Role Models' and 'The Hangover's' amusing character actor, Matt Walsh on the screens yet again. The same also can be said for 'Pineapple Express' and 'Eastbound & Down' star, Danny McBride. McBride has some great comedy exchanges with Downey Jnr playing a Western Union employee. Wu-Tang Clan rapper RZA also proves that he has the acting chops yet again around 'Funny People' giving us an all to accurate portrayal of airport security. There is also a great appearance by two men who are usually joined by a half. Plus what's a Todd Phillips movie without a cool, chuckle catching cameo from the man himself?
It's Jamie Foxx however that gives the best cameo. The acting/singing/comedian triple threat holds his own when its just the three of them (him, Galafanakis and Downey Jnr). His appearance leads to a hilarious subplot and him and Downey Jnr extend the chemistry they developed in the classical drama 'The Soloist' to the comedy world. These two versatile talents need to team up more like Galafanakis and Phillips.
Going into this film if you were thinking this film was going to be great you might just be a little disappointed because this film is so much more than that. Sure this film is no 'Hangover', it's more like the best Friday night you've had in awhile the evening before. Sure maybe you won't remember it as much as that 'Hangover' the morning after but when your next 'Due Date' arrives you aren't going to want to miss its delivery. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Sunday, 2 October 2011
Crazy, stupid, driving..
100 Minutes. Starring: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Albert Brooks, Bryan Cranston, Oscar Isaac, Christina Hendricks & Ron Perlman. Director: Nicolas Winding Refn. Screenplay: Hossein Amini
Ryan Gosling is the man. It's rare that a top actor has two, big hits in one year, but one week? Gosling is the latest Pitt/DiCaprio/Hartnett/Franco/Reynolds pretty boy, ladies favourite actor to make good on a respected career that even the guys and critics can appreciate. This week he's already bringing the laughs and smiles with Steve Carrell in the hit, thinking man's warm romantic comedy 'Crazy, Stupid Love' and now with his foot on the success accelerator he keeps things going with 'Drive' as he travels from the mainstream to the underground. Also beware 'The Ides Of March' in October as Gosling hops on the latest Clooney campaign trail in what looks to be another curious classic from George.
Right now Ryan-currently one of the most hard-working actors in Hollywood goes full throttle in a classic America piece that's from it's 80's pink, 'Cocktail' style credits and sensational soundtrack sparks off nostalgia and love for classic American muscle automobiles. Much like Tarantino's 'Death Proof' just with more brains...and we're not just talking about the ones splattered on the windshield. Gosling shows he can act up with the best as his seldom-speaking role shows he can do more in few words then most do in monologues. Channelling his inner Steve McQueen (complete with cool vintage jacket and grandad t-shirts), Gosling rides through this movie with California cool, shooting straight like a 'Bullitt' and showing that at 30 he's the leading man of the next wave in this generations young acting pool. Gosling easy-going nature in this movie is a laid back cool that doesn't try too hard. His character even make the point of not style/social smoking like most cool characters in dark movies and this film lights up and is all the blazing-hot better for it.
From the 'Collateral' esque skyline shots, this ride around the futuristic looking L.A. has all the trappings of classic cinema. One of the most impressive scenes in this slick and stylish shot picture is when our getaway driver opens this movie by evading the police in a cool, clinical and calculated drive with the aid of a police radio and a Clipper basketball game in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter (with no timeout's left). This makes for the perfectly timed escape and master plan. This wheelman shows he is a real, genuine talent, laid-back, but straight forward and precise in his work.
Between working as a Hollywood stuntman and moonlighting on the crime ride Gosling meets incredible young actress Carey Mulligan and her cute son. Needless to say he falls for them (who wouldn't?), but things take a turn for the worse when her husband comes out of prison and doesn't have much choice in the matter of avoiding the straight and narrow. This is were Gosling is drawn in and were things get leather glove gripping tense (a nice directing technique) real messy...I mean really messy.
Now this movie has it's heart in the right place but the trouble is it has the guts to be more gory then we want it to be. Yes the action scenes are great, but some of the gratuity cheapens the genuine intentions of this thriller who's lead is more in the 'protector' mode than the vengeful one out for blood. Still if you look away enough you can see that this is still a good movie that falls in love with the romanticism of cinema more than most big budget Hollywood flicks. This Los Angeles times piece broadens it's horizons with great performances (especially from 'Malcolm In The Middle' and 'Breaking Bads' Bryan Cranston) and cinematography. When you reach your destination this may not be the ride of your life but it's still a damn good journey. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
On his sophomore script Affleck really goes to town.
15, 125 Minutes. Starring: Ben Affleck, Jon Hamm, Rebecca Hall, Blake Lively, Jeremy Renner & Pete Postlethwaite. Director: Ben Affleck
Remember in 'Good Will Hunting' where Ben Afflecks Chuckie tells Matt Damon's Will that he's "sitting on a winning lottery ticket"? Basically telling him not to waste his potential because he doesn't want to go to his doorstep in 20 years and see that he's still there. Well it looks like Matt Damon heeded that on screen advice from his best friend and thus a star was 'bourne'. This didn't mean that Ben Affleck was left behind however. Sure he has had his ups and downs, (that's what happens when your a 'Daredevil' (although that films pretty decent)) but Affleck won't be found waiting at Damon's porch anymore-and not just because Matt cashed in that lottery ticket-but because Ben has moved on too.
Ben Affleck is still one of the best actors around but he can bank on a successful sitting in the directors chair. His rookie film saw him 'Gone Baby Gone' and critics hailed it 'impressive'. Now Ben delivers his genius follow up 'The Town'. A film about a group of ruthless bank robbers in Boston who see no ceilings in their untouchable status until leader of the pack Ben Affleck falls in love with one of his hostages...classic.
Due to burglar masks that are even uglier than those Richard Nixon ones Affleck's hostage doesn't recognise him even when he follows her to their local laundry with no dirty whites and apparently a clean conscience. From their clean slate and fresh sort of start love blossoms as Affleck now takes her heart too. The problem is what will Affleck's buddies think of this when they find out? It has the makings of an aaakwaaaard lunch date and you thought meeting your girls girlfriends was petrifying enough.
Now that isn't the only problem Ben faces. Him and his team have the entire Boston police department and the FBI after them. A crack unit led by a mad man in the form of an equally Affleck stellar performance from Jon Hamm, who has made a great bee line from the small screen to the silver one. Ben also brings even more baggage to his new relationship in the form of an almost unrecognisable but undeniable Blake Lively and a bouquet of atypical florists who you do not want to receive roses from.
This film was made by the studio that brought us 'The Departed' which basically means this film is set in Boston. In addition, just like that Departed movie (that starred Damon) this good guys and bad guys thriller is top notch. While the city streets of Boston day and night look beautiful all whilst managing to maintain a sinister backdrop for this crime caper.
Even at just a shade over two and a half hours this film still leaves you gripped throughout. It may also look like a merchandising campaign for Boston sports jackets but with or without that this film is cloaked with authenticity. While Ben is at his career best in front and behind of the camera. I bet Boston were proud of their adopted Californian son at the films premiere in Fenway park as Affleck has hit big on his second strike. The home of the Sox also provides a great backdrop for the opening of the films classically thrilling third act. The support in this film also is as strong as the Boston Celtics bench, Jeremy Renner puts in a chilling performance with avengance (Marvel when you see him look even sharper as 'Hawkeye' soon) and in this town and 'Inception' Pete Pothelswaite has subbed in two of the best films of last year (Rest In Peace).
'The Town' is at home in a city of great crime thrillers. It's chilling, exciting and even provides light relief at times to keep you involved, unlike that lone police officer. The action is incredible, the scenes involving paramedics is clinical and the action involving nuns is a testament to a great belief in directing and writing. Also just like Afflecks first flick the acting is understated but comes with a depth that's hard to find in the core of most movies these days. Unlike Affleck's first film however 'The Town' is more than brilliant, it's classic. In short 'The Town' is one picture you've gotta visit one night before it's 'Gone Baby Gone' and your left standing on the doorstep all alone. TIM DAVID HARVEY