Thursday, 31 May 2012
Starring: Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman, Bob Balaban & Harvey Kietel. Director: Wes Anderson. Screenplay: Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola
If you know director Wes Anderson's work ('The Fantastic Mr. Fox', 'The Darjeeling Limited', 'The Royal Tenenbaums ') you'll know what to expect...sort of. The quintessential quirky and perfectly peculiar director has the talented techniques and the versatile vision of a modern day genius. He has the ability of turning a sweet tale into a mainstream success and that's what he does with his latest; 'Moonrise Kingdom'. A film that looks to enlighten and rise to the throne of alternative Hollywood pictures.
Bruce Willis, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Harvey Kietel and Tilda Swinton seem to agree as the greats all lend their incredible talents to this piece all playing different sort of roles than they normally do. Even Willis who plays a different cop character then he's used to. The wife-beating vest and gun are left at home and replaced with thick glasses and a receding comb-over. Still with all the performance power of the major players the real stars of this show are Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward. They play two Romeo and Juliet star-crossed lovers-albeit shy of their teens-who runaway from home and set up camp (thanks to our Romeo's scouting experience) almost going all 'Lord Of The Flies' on us.
With two standout scene stealing performances these kids are more than alright, they're the new indie darlings and actors of the future. One looking older than her years, the other acting beyond his age-sakes maturity. Whoever scouted these young actors deserves another badge sewn on. Thanks to great roles from Jason Schwartzman (an Anderson veteran), Swinton and Kietel, an on form and range-full Norton, an always deadpan and delightful Murray and a wonderful warm, heart-filled delivery from Willis this movie truly is something strangely special.
Still it's the offbeat on-heart direction from Anderson that strikes the biggest chord on the heart strings. From the old-fashioned and traditional credits first opening, to every way every scene and emotion is filmed this is formidable in all its favorable and fancy, talented techniques. This pictures Sixties style to the stripped-down way its shot make it more than just a pristine period piece. It's a real, visionary revisit. Bringing the sort of great heart and humor filled moments that other films just don't, Anderson has done it again. He's crafted another artistic story for the celluloid that furthers the ideas and work of what is classic Wes...and that's something that's weirdly wonderful. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Tuesday, 29 May 2012
Starring: Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Guy Pearce, Idris Elba, Logan Marshall-Green, Charlize Theron. Director: Ridley Scott. Screenplay: Jon Spaihts & Damon Lindelof
The beginning of the end.
Ridley Scott's iconic and classic 'Alien' trilogy set the tone for Sci-Fi movies and raised the bar for extra-terrestrial films when they turned Sigourney Weaver into a superstar. With its huge success, the general poor quality of other alien-life movies trying to imitate, the souring of the 'Alien vs Predator' spin-off franchise and modern cinemas ever raging desire to remake classics there was always going to be a prequel.
Thank the movie God's that legend Ridley Scott took the helm of 'Prometheus' because anyone else then the original director would have turned this expedition into a sinking ship. Starring Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Guy Pearce, Idris Elba, Logan Marshall-Green and Charlize Theron 'Prometheus' is a spin-off/prequel, proceeding but not directly connected to 'Alien' or as Scott says "the same strand of DNA (as 'Alien')".
Prometheus is also the ship that takes this crew out of this world and into the one that brought Scott his greatest success. Ridley is back on radical form with his incredible impressions and wonderful worlds. The landscape of the opening credits is incredibly beautiful, especially in three dimensions and from Scotland to far away lands the backdrop of this movie setting is boundless and sublime. Still just like the iconic 'Alien' film the best, most taught and tense scenes are on the ship. With clever but not generic nods to the original and a whole new sense of disgusting peril, this is more than a homage revisit to the franchise...it's a whole new reinvention.
The crew know how to man this vessel too. From Charlize Theron's chilling performance in charge, cold and calculated to an unrecognizable Guy Pearce going out of his range for a real performance. It's the 'Inception' Tom Hardy like charm of Logan Marshall-Green and the ever-growing real reputation of Idris Elba that almost steal the show however. Still when you have the rapid ascension of the talents of Michael Fassbender on board-especially as a 'basketball on bicycle', 'Lawrence Of Arabia' studying android not much is else is going to compute. That is until you see how Scott's new Sigourney muse Noomi Rapace leads things. After inking her reputation as 'The Girl With A Dragon Tattoo' and solving crimes with Holmes and Watson in 'A Game Of Shadows' Noomi gives her defining performance on board of 'Prometheus'. From her raw emotion to her serious screen presence Rapace could not be replaced.
Hardcore fans and those seeking more of the original extra-terrestrial life will not be disappointed. Even after a marketing campaign somewhat shrouded in secrecy this film reveals a new side that old and new fans can get used to. Those who treat this science fiction as science fact will finally be told the history of the back-story they've for so long craved to explore. Whereas new generation fans who weren't even a baby in a belly when the first one came out can now watch all the films in chronological order as they have aliens bursting out of peoples chests to look forward to next. Going back to the original after over 30 years of new, inventive tries at futuristic/alien movies Scott's ship still has life in it yet.TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Très Bonne .
Starring: Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo, John Goodman, James Cromwell & Uggie The Dog. Director: Michel Hazanavicius. Screenplay: Michel Hazanavicius
This week the eagerly anticipated, Oscar tipped French film 'The Artist' is released. This perfect picture is seen as more than a homage piece to the silent movie...it's a continuation of the genre. So in honor of a great new movie whose actions speak and peak louder than words, let's say more with as little as possible. Much in the style of a silent movies intertitles, let's spell it out.
This movie is...
"The silent film everyone's been talking about",
"A hallmark to the history of cinema"
"How movies should still be made",
"A Cannes classic",
Not to mention...
"This silence is golden",
"A black and white classic full of colour and vibrancy",
"With a dog cuter and even more talented than Eddie form 'Frasier'"
"The only thing that doesn't make this film look like it's straight from the twenties is the familiar faces of James Cromwell and John Goodman",
"Cooler and classier than the coolest two words in the English language...'Dean' and 'Martin",
"Leaves stories of today lost in translation",
"A true romance of French fancy brought to the Hollywoodland hills",
"With a charming, classic leading man and a beautiful screen starlet just as charismatic who would of been big stars back then and will be now",
"A true masterpiece",
"An 'Au Revoir' to the notion that old films are old hat",
TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Saturday, 26 May 2012
Back In Black.
115 Minutes. Starring: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Jemaine Clement, Michael Stuhlbarg & Emma Thompson. Director: Barry Sonnenfeld. Screenplay: Etan Cohen
Here come the MIB. Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones and one more recruit suit and shade up to defend the world against the worst scum of the universe once again. The 'Men In Black' are back. After a classic first installment to the series and a fun sequel that entertained-despite critics calling for the neuralyser-comes the third part of the trilogy 'Men In Black 3'. It's time for that music, that writing, those sunglasses and those suits one more time as one of modern Hollywood's favorite franchises is back after a decade lost in space and time.
How good it is to have them back too. What once was a fresh take on both alien and 'buddy cop' movies still feels fondly familiar after all these years. That's what you get when you take the chalk and cheese partnership of the charming and charismatic Will Smith (Agent J) and the genuine and deadpan Tommy Lee Jones (Agent K) with all their chemistry. The smiles and laughs keep coming even in the shorter time Lee Jones and Smith have together. It's all written so well by a Cohen brother (Ethan) and directed once again by Barry Sonnenfeld.
Now that wasn't a spoiler. Everyone knows this film is about Josh Brolin. Josh Brolin? Yep, that's right the seriously sublime actor from 'No Country For Old Men', 'True Grit' and 'Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps' has more than just a funny bone to tickle...seriously. Let's back track a little and hop in a Delorean because just like 'Back To The Future' this film takes you through time. GREAT SCOTT MARTY someone has gone back in time and killed Agent K! So it's up to Agent J to take his own Quantum Leap to get his partner back.
So after a cool IMAX/3D looking time jump, that sky scrapes through prehistoric and turning points in American history 'Big Will's' Agent J is shot back to the sixties and all its classic fashion and feel. Here's where Josh Brolin comes into play, AKA a young Agent K. The only thing better than the classic, look and feel of this movie going back to its origins is Brolin's interpretation of Tommy Lee Jones character. It's more than an impression. It's an inspired imitation with added Brolin charm and deadpan handed down from Jones. From every annunciation to every mannerism Brolin is pitch, poise and performance perfect. Nobody else could have done it like him, you'll almost think he's dubbed, you forget it's Josh and not Tommy. He's this franchises ace in the hole. He steals the show while borrowing a character.
Will Smith and the boys in black still make this film look good, far from old and busted. Even if you know what to expect, funny looking aliens, cool space gadgets this film is still warmly welcome. Even if a few old faces are missing, some favorite characters are back along with new heroes, villains and a Pussycat Doll. Funny for all the family and with entertaining action and adventure this is one Friday film escape that takes you out of this world. Add some Andy Warhol, Bill Hader and Will Arnett musings, sixties space expedition, a thrilling climax and even some heart moving matters (who would of thought a box of tissues would be needed?) and you have one shade and suits story you won't want to forget. Save the neuralyser. This series is back with a flash. Black is back. It never goes out of style. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
With Will Smith donning that infamous black suit and shades for a third time this week in 'Men In Black 3', our 'DVD Rack' sorts through some of his favorites.
MEN IN BLACK: With 'Men In Black 3' suiting up this week let's take it back to the original and the film that along with 'Independence Day' more than worthy of a mention) helped take Will Smith from the 'Fresh Prince' to out of the world, Hollywood heights of megastardom. Critics thought that another alien movie coming off the heels of Smith's fourth of July escapade-especially a comedic one-would ruin him. Turns out it truly made him, funny and exciting it showed just how charismatic and versatile this entertainer is alongside the legendary Tommy Lee Jones. Singing and alien dancing his way onto the soundtrack this rap legend also gave his second career of music a second wind.
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. This picture helped develop a working relationship between Mann and Jamie Foxx 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.
HANCOCK: Sure this may not be Will Smith's best movie, but then again this is not your average superhero movie, making for a refreshing change for the saturated genre. Smith plays 'Hancock', not so 'super' and not so 'heroic', but with crime fighting powers and the ability to withstand anything and anybody, except a few rounds with Jack Daniels. Smith however is on top form, charismatic as ever, even when playing an 'asshole'. There is great support from family unit Jason Bateman and Charlize Theron while the CGI and effects really are special. Even when this funny film shifts in mood from light to dark it's still appealing in it's action and heroism.
HITCH: The love doctor is in. Will Smith gives his most genuine and funny turn alongside the beautiful Eva Mendes in a gorgeous rom-com. This is how romantic comedies are supposed to be. Hilarious and inspiring all at the same time. Will gives men a manual in how to treat women, while the sweetly funny Kevin Smith gives us a step by step guide of how not to dance from the Q-Tips to the making of the pizza. The classic city of New York also serves as a sub-character shown in all its glory and all sorts of lights. Its barely looked better, even looking Parisian in parts for more romance. With a stunning soundtrack too with a heart-warming, spine-tingling induced Sam Cooke and Jimmy Cliff opening montage this film shows you just what a joy love and life can really be. 'You Can Get It If You Really Want'.
THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS: It doesn't get much more inspiring than this. Smith and son (Jaden) explore the true story of rags to riches stockbroker Chris Gardener (who makes a nice, fitting cameo) told in the book of the same, rightfully so, misspelled name. Stunningly set in San Fransisco Smith goes for broke with a genuine performance of a real story that will leave you both emotional and inspired. As Smith's Gardener looks to climb up the ladders and boom in the stockbroking industry he must face the busted life of living on the streets and sleeping roughly where he can (including a toilet cubicle in a foot to the door, foot in mouth, heart-wrenching scene). Will Smith films these days seem to bring the tears but none more than this. This is as real and rough as it gets. Still positive emotion trumps negative emotion everytime and the joy in this piece makes for something truly inspirational. If this doesn't leave you in awe and with some get up and go nothing will.
I AM LEGEND: Will takes on zombies and the end of the world as we know it and wins one of his best performances and biggest movies to date. This is this action stars 'Blade Runner' or 'Total Recall' with a prequel in the works whilst everything else is getting remade. You'll be amazed at how deserted New York City looks. You'll be moved my mans best friend. You'll be entertained and inspired. You'll know what to expect from Will. He is legend.
SEVEN POUNDS: Moving and inspired picture where Will seeks out seven strangers in need of his help and goes more than out of his way. This is dark, deep but also bold and beautiful. There won't be a dry eye or empty throat with this one. This choked up classic goes for the jugular and heart strings. With seriously standout performances from Rosario Dawson, Woody Harrelson and of course Smith this will capture your eyes and heart.
THE LEGEND OF BAGGER VANCE: Normally a film starring both Will Smith and Matt Damon would be a hole in one at the box-office but this period piece about golf wasn't received as well as it should be. People need to make this DVD their next round however as it is a quaint but beautiful story. With one of his deepest and realest performances, Will swings subtly...but strong. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Wednesday, 23 May 2012
Trouble In Paradise.
115 Minutes. Starring: George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Beau Bridges, Judy Greer, Matthew Lillard, Amara Miller & Robert Forster. Director: Alexander Payne. Screenplay: Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon& Jim Rash
This should have been it. This should have finally been the movie that garnered George Clooney the 'Best Actor Oscar' this February gone that he so richly deserves. The legendary actor/Cary Grant of our time that gave us the classics 'Michael Clayton', 'Up In The Air' and the more recent 'The Ides Of March' really has acted in the perfect picture with 'The Descendants'. A film set in the private and peaceful Hawaii centered around the personal wars of family, business and love.
"My friends on the mainland think just because I live in Hawaii, I'm in paradise" Clooney's character says to start the film, but we begin to see and believe that there's much more lying underneath. What we know is that this leading man's wife is on life support and not as close to her husband as originally thought. What's more is our man of the moment is now left holding the kids, with whom he has even less of a relationship with. What this gives us is not a film about neglect and hate, but more a character study of love and devotion, which is complexly humble and simply beautiful.
'About Schmidt' and 'Sideways' director Alexander Payne understands the more human side of movies again. With another hit he brings the hurt and pain, and the joy and healing perfectly as him and Clooney delve into the depths of human nature and emotion with sublime subtly but direct distinction. This is no Hollywood gloss, it's cinematic class. Hawaii provides the perfect contrasting backdrop for a film that deals with some ugly truths but deals with them with dignity and poise, resulting in a perfectly beautiful message. The film is also subtly scored sweetly with some beautiful Hawaiian music. It's one Israel Kamakawiwo'ole version of 'Somewhere Over The Rainbow' away from being the most sensational soundtrack of sounds echoing over the celluloid.
From wayward kids to ones that are going places and stunning backdrops to sobering inner city images this film shows both sides of the coin and this pays off in full. Not only is it one of Payne's most polarising pictures it's also the performance Clooney needed just to show us how good he really is. He adds a different take to his formidable filmography and bares all his emotion and ours, from the subtle grimaces to the lack of dry eyes in the house. This is a second career making, mesmerizing job done with distinction from a modern great. One who could have retired before this and still been heralded, but now had proved himself wrong that he's running out of time and interest. Clooney is back on top. Gong or not.
You need to get to DVD stores and players quickly to see a five time Academy nominated moving movie that will resonate long after all the Oscars have been polished off. With great support from people we know (Beau Bridges, Robert Forster and Matthew Lillard) to those we're getting to know (Shailene Woodley and Amara Miller who play our characters daughters with pride) this film tops the rest. With some classy comedic moments that ease the tension but do not cheapen the tone, this movie breaks the seriousness of life to us with care and compassion. 'The Descendants' is ready for ascension in the movie ranks. This slow burner is a fast learner, thought provoking and nostalgia inducing. From generation to generation everyone will get his film. After all it's about family and love. Now what's more important than that? TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Sunday, 13 May 2012
In Loving Memory.
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and The Incredible Hulk have recently assembled some record breaking box-office returns for 'The Avengers' and in what looks like to be arguably the greatest year of comic-book, superhero movies ever (just wait however), a rebooted 'Spiderman' is set to spin a new web this sensational to be, scorching Summer. Still despite all the hype and buzz of Stan Lee's greatest heroes you have to look to D.C. for the most anticipated movie of the year to marvel at.
With a combination of three trailers that have revealed a little bit more with each tease and an otherwise almost non-existent and therefore intriguing marketing campaign 'The Dark Knight Rises' coming July 20Th is the film of the year that everyone really can't wait for. From the intimidating and influential presence of Tom Hardy's big and bold portrayal of Bane, to the incredible 'Inception' cast reuniting and Anne Hathaway's Catwoman being let out the bag, the latest in the Christopher Nolan/Christian Bale 'Batman' saga looks set to follow cinemas greatest sequel of all time. Set to compliment the other two classics by making this stellar series right there with 'Lord Of The Rings', 'Star Wars' and 'The Godfather' as one of the greatest trilogy's of all-time.
After 'Batman Begins' re-energised and heated up a franchise that was dying off in the ice cold, Mr. Freeze corniness of 'Batman & Robin', fans just want to know how 'The Dark Knight' legend ends. A legend whose legacy lasts due in most part to the last iconic movie and its ultimate star. As good as Bane is and as great as he's set to be in this movie, something tells us that when this trilogy goes down in history someone else will have the last laugh. Nobody beats the Joker. Let's not forget what took this franchise from favorite to formidable.
I still miss Heath Ledger.
Four years is a long time. Almost half a decade's gone, but the feelings are still raw. To say Tom Hardy's Bane probably won't beat Heath Ledger's Joker is unfair, especially since we haven't seen the final product. A final product that really does look to be almost as iconic and the closest you could probably get to Batman's greatest villain. Still that's just how good Heath Ledger's Joker was. It was beyond the character itself. A redefinition of a cult character that changed everything. Let's not forget or ignore with all due respect that when Heath was originally named as the Joker fans were far from perfectly pleased like when they saw what his portrayal produced in the end. "NOT that 'Brokeback Mountain' guy" they cried. "Jack Nicholson is the ONLY Joker". There more than a sense that this casting was far from right. Just how wrong the doubters where.
All these things where said let's not forget, but then after the first trailer and the sound of that voice and that laugh people started to listen. Then after people finally saw the darkly made up purple reigning anti-hero after the second trailer, there where no more second thoughts and it wasn't just out of respect at the then recent and rawness of the tragic news. Before the final trailer everyone's mind was made up. When arguably the most eagerly anticipated films of all times rolled through projectors worldwide it was over. Sorry Jack. Here's the real Joker. Nobody has ever defied and re-defined a legend and it'll take something far greater to do it again.
Modern movies deserved a better class of criminal and Heath Ledger gave it to them. From the self-made make up, applied in patchy perfection to telling stories of how he got those scars, this part Jack/part 'Clockwork Orange'/punk rock inspired Joker was sinisterly superb, a great bad guy, a perfect nemesis. The formidable foil to the Bat was taken off the comic-book pages and brought to life with a dark vitality and enthusiastically with a certain charm that took this callous character and gave it charisma that left even the geekiest Bruce Wayne fans rooting for him. From a well-worked bank job that revealed the mask behind the mask, to pencil tricks which drew guilty laughs, with a conviction and a now iconic cold, chuckle and cackle Heath Ledger redefined a character and flipped the script on a classic story.
He made it his own. Invited himself into the role until we where all welcome to appreciate how he really crafted a classic. He really was our entertainment, crashing parties with a shotgun and daring 'Batman' to "HIT ME"! From flipping the usual routine of a good/cop bad cop interrogation scene (all of Batman's strength couldn't do anything compared to the Joker's mental problems) to his corrupting bedside manner and hospital guise with Two Face, he really showed both signs of the character complexity coin. Showing that whether hands on or playing mind games the Joker had more than one or two tricks up his sleeve. Stealing every scene he was in and making viewers wish he was in everyone he wasn't, Ledger's Joker made 'The Dark Knight' his. From locking himself into a hotel room to perfect his character to getting deep into the psyche of a psychologically thrilling villain Heath's Joker truly deserved the posthumous Oscar and the outstanding 30 other awards that followed for more than tributes sake.
He straight scared Michael Caine, took the shine off Christian Bale and took a classic character and made it something more. From the "cheap purple suit" to the slicked down green hair Heath more than looked the part...he owned it. Like the iconic scene of the Joker hanging slyly and coolly out a getaway Police car (which would have been a fitting last image of the Joker) every move, gesture and sentence was a classic. Jack Nicholson may have paved the way with his own iconic performance, but Heath Ledger took his legacy down the road and spun it in a whole new direction. Can you even imagine Steve Carrell and Robin Williams where in the running to take the Joker wheel (no offence)? Now not even a former rumored Johnny Depp and all his excellent eccentric performances could step into the Joker's pointed shoes or ever replace(although he, Jude Law and Colin Farrell did a fine, beautifully respectful job of finishing Heath's great character on the inventive 'The Imagenerium Of Doctor Pannesus' by Terry Gilliam). Decades and generations could pass with different takes on the clown, but none could possibly be taken to with smiles and laughs like the definitive performance.
Heath Ledger has many classic performances in his filmography. From becoming a heartthrob in '10 Things I Hate About You' to becoming a star in 'A Knights Tale'. Or from bringing brave beauty and dutiful depth to what shouldn't be a controversial subject on 'Brokeback Mountain' with Jake Gyllenhal to capturing a part of cult icon Bob Dylan in the inventive, inspired 'I'm Not There'. Going from more than just another "pretty boy" tag like Brad Pitt, Leo DiCaprio and Josh Hartnett to showing he was a real, bonafide actor, bolder and better than the rest, just like the aforementioned. From 'The Patriot' to 'Monsters Ball' in his life Ledger became more than just an icon in Australia like the late, legendary Michael Hutchence of top band INXS. He even showed a directors eye in the beautiful video of great singer Ben Harper's beautiful 'Morning Yearning' song. Close friend Ben returned the favor by writing a lovely lullaby for Ledger's daughter called 'Happy Ever After In Your Eyes'. Now that's art imitating life's loyalty and friendship. What a guy he really was.
Still all these amazing accomplishments are awe-struck in comparison to Heath's last and legacy making role. The Joker performance holds much more resonance and it's beyond the emotional. Some may worship late celebrities more than the living for whatever reason but Heath's performance is the thing of legend regardless of his tragic circumstances and it should be respected as such. Its a real shame one of the Joker's last lines ("I think you and I (Batman) are destined to do this forever") didn't come true. It's a real shame we can't see Heath Ledger's Joker in this sequel, or the more incredible performances Ledger would have added to his legend if he was still here but more important its just too tragic that the man himself isn't here. Beyond the fame and fans for his family and friends words cant justify the loss, but like the circumstances of his death that is his business not ours. When it comes down to his life in movies however for us we witnessed one of the greatest, most perfect performers of modern and all times. With his signature, 'Why So Serious' Academy winning role Heath blessed us with a classic that made us smile more even through the tragic times.
There will never be another individual like him. With all due respect when it comes to the Joker, Heath Ledger should have the last laugh.
Saturday, 12 May 2012
Starring: Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter, Eva Green, Jackie Earle Haley, Jonny Lee Miller, Chloë Grace Moretz, Bella Heathcote. Director: Tim Burton. Screenplay: Seth Grahame-Smith
There's something strange going on between legendary actor Johnny Depp and Tim Burton. OK so that's nothing new but the perfectly peculiar partnership have created a legendary legacy of classics. From sweet characters with scissors for hands to those who prefer to use barber tools for more sinister purposes this dynamic duo are the Scorsese and De Niro of the 'weird' genre. The stranger they've got the better they've got. They've just made too many good films.
As a matter of fact for all in sake and purpose let's reel them off; 'Edward Scissorhands', 'Ed Wood', 'Sleepy Hollow', 'Charlie and The Chocolate Factory', 'Corpse Bride', 'Sweeney Todd' and 'Alice in Wonderland'. Now after Depp made a classic cameo in the movie remake of the icon T.V. series that made him ('21 Jump Street' (what a movie)), Burton brings him back for the film adaptation of the sixties/seventies Gothic soap opera 'Dark Shadows'.
In 'Dark Shadows', Depp-a class act who's played all sorts of creatures-finally gets his fangs into the role of a vampire (Barnabas Collins). A role he seems overdue and born to play. Showing the 'Twilight' generation how it's really done with light skin, but a sparkling bright personality Johnny owns and for the most part carries this piece. It's not that this is a bad movie. With a stellar supporting, formidable female cast of Michelle Pfeiffer (back beautifully and boldly), Helena Bonham Carter (as Tim Burton per), the beautiful Eva Green (we'll settle your wonder now, you recognise her from 'Casino Royale' )and Chloë Grace Moretz, (growing in classy, cool charm and charisma) this really is an enthusiastic ensemble piece. Still, with the other classics in the Depp/Burton filmography it slightly pales in comparison like vampire complexion.
Still this television spin-off/remake is at least fresh feeling in all cobweb old, samey vampire films that are coming out by the coffin load. Sure it's dark, but with lighter tones making it more likely to be invited in by fanged fans who prefer their Buffy's to their Edward's. It's stranger too, making it one of the more marvels of modern-day cinema. Witches and bold body special effects haven't been this wonderfully weird since Bruce Willis had to choose between wives in the nighties.
Still you really feel the length of this movie in parts and although it's a perfect seventies period piece, just like the era between the Sixties and Eighties it somewhat feels dated even if it is a fresh idea (no offence). Still from Chevy's to Curtis Mayfield 'Superfly' records there's nothing wrong (more 'fond') with the familiar. Playing a vampire that's woken up after a cursed 200 year sleep (sounds more like a coma), Depp gives us some of his best one liners in his career while adapting to new terrains and hippies. Downing great gags like pints of blood Depp is on fine form but just like his classy crime caper ('The Tourist'), or his last smooth number ('The Rum Diary') it's just all a little sweet and sedate in comparison to his best work.
There's nothing wrong with that for the most part in another enjoyable film. Still if Depp and Burton want to continue to push the envelope they forced open further, they'll have to look to send up more shock and awe in the future. There is nothing wrong with this movie but it's clear with this actor/director combo that something more is lurking in the shadows. Something darker. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
No shit Sherlock.
Starring: Robert Downey, Jr., Jude Law, Noomi Rapace, Jared Harris, Stephen Fry, Kelly Reilly & Rachel McAdams. Director: Guy Ritchie. Screenplay: Kieran Mulroney, Michele Mulroney & Guy Ritchie
Elementary my dear folk. Sherlock Holmes is back. After the British intelligence of director Guy Ritchie teamed up with the chemistry filled, charismatic tandem of Robert Downey Jnr.(Holmes) and Jude Law (Watson) for the big-hit 'Sherlock Holmes' in 2009 we now have a sequel for a new take on the Sherlock story that deserves a series. 'Sherlock Holmes-A Game Of Shadows' sees our favourite pair of crime-fighters race against time and across Europe to face Sherlock Holmes' nemesis Moriarty. In a film influenced by Conan Doyle's Sherlock story 'The Final Problem'.
There are no troubles or sophomore slumps here in a sequel that is every bit as good as the original...if not more exciting. Ritchie's second Sherlock has the respect to keep some things by the book, but also isn't afraid to flip the script. Mixing traditional settings with new modern directorial techniques and keeping things fresh and interesting...even for Sherlock. All the hallmarks that made the first film so good are homaged and more. There are more slow-motion scenes than a John Woo flick, more flashbacks than a 'Family Guy' episode and more importantly more action set pieces than the first or most films from this year. From hand to hand combat that would make Bourne blush, and shoot-outs that would keep Bond at bay, there's more to this film than meets the magnifying glass.
From tremendous train scenes by the carriage load, to Sherlock breaking down his fighting techniques with a little help and a little scrambling of eggs, this sequel is whisked into the shape that other franchises have failed to round into. Johnny Depp better watch out it seems that Robert Downey Jnr. is the outstanding, offbeat actor of the moment. As Downey becomes even more perfectly peculiar so does his rightfully oddball Holmes character. With this and the 'Iron Man' franchise this leading man's next few years are set. As Robert Downey has the mettle and versatility to play two completely different characters so well, one thing is evident and remains the same, his cool, contagious charisma.
This enthusiasm catches on to the rest of the cast. Jude Law has found his niche, once again standing firm and next to Holmes and Downey Jnr proud. This actor and his character make the perfect partner for our main character to play off. If that wasn't enough how about a visit from Sherlock's brother Mycroft played magnificently up by English national treasure Stephen Fry. Jared Harris also makes for the perfect villain and formidable foil in Professor Moriarty the Joker to Sherlock Holmes' Batman, with all their back and forth, chess moves. Plus with some old (Rachel McAdams) and new (Noomi Rapace) female friends joining the investigation things look real good.
There really must be something in that pipe of Sherlock's because this sequel is smoking hot. From London to Switzerland by way of Paris this is one star Euro trip you want to be part of. Case in point this film is no copycat of the first film disguised as a sequel. It's a new story in it's own right, that is a real scene turner. Funny and fresh, exciting and entertaining, they don't make sequels like this anymore...until the next one. Let's hope this isn't his last bow. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Friday, 11 May 2012
This weeks 'DVD RACK' is a random selection of favorite films from one-of-a-kind, dynamic, versatile talent Johnny Depp, who this week we can see collaborating with Tim Burton again on 'Dark Shadows'.
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.
Starring: Tom Cruise, Paula Patton, Jeremy Renner & Simon Pegg. Director: Brad Bird. Screenplay: André Nemec & Josh Appelbaum
Your mission…should you choose to accept it, is to throw away your inhibitions and ideas of reality for a few hours and enjoy some of Tom Cruise and his O.T.T. world. Yep that’s right ‘Mission Impossible’ is back for its fourth go-round and this time with no Bond and Bourne in sight it looks to be the big budget, Boxing Day, box-office, blockbuster smash that Tom Cruise needs to remind the general public that he’s still part of the Hollywood elite.
‘Mission: Impossible-Ghost Protocol’ begins explosively with, dead-agents, bombings in Russia and the shortest cameo from a British actor ever resulting is Cruise’s IMF team being disavowed (Maggie Q and Jonathan Rhys Meyers from ‘Mission: Impossible 3’ seems to have made that absentee list too unfortunately) and left to fend for themselves and their country on their own. So Cruise’s Ethan Hunt character is left with the girl who stole a scene in 'Hitch', the next 'Bourne' and Scottie from 'Star Trek'. Or should we say the more than capable hands of the sexy and slick Paula Patton, the next big-thing in Jeremey Renner and Hollywood’s latest, favourite, comic Brit Simon Pegg.
This unique ensemble makes for an equally one-of-a-kind movie, thrilling and exciting, but never taking itself too seriously. Thanks to guys like Pegg and some old friends the corniness is kept in relative check, while the action is allowed the no-holes barred freedom. What results is some exciting, epic, stunts scaling Dubai’s biggest hotel the Burj Khalifa, a Bond meets Hollywood sandstorm chase, some state of the art car park fighting and some incredible, blink and you'll miss it hand-to-hand combat that is as awesome looking as the special effects and could even leave Matt Damon floored. It really does look like Jason Bourne is left in the safe and quick hands of Renner. A born star.
Cruise is again Cruise, and on fine-form leading this picture, but even with his star-power, Simon’s pegged gags and Renner’s appeal, it's Paula Patton that steals the show somewhat…and she even wins the looks battle with a Prada model in this picture. Patton shows she’s more than Mrs. Robin Thicke by showing she has the acting smarts to kick the ass of the notion that she’s just here for her beauty (but she sure is the best looking thing about this movie). Cruise and Holmes better watch out. Patton and Thicke may be the new power couple in Hollywood.
Still for the moment it's this film that is in full-force this fall. From the gorgeous gadgets to the sensational set pieces and the lavishing locations to the classy cinematography that offers even more awe-inspiring, real-world depth on IMAX (to go along with 'The Dark Knight Rises' prologue...if your lucky). This supped up spy thriller goes hard and is as hot as the films threat of nuclear war.
Breaking through and burning bright after the redeeming third installment-that recovered from the sensational sequel slump to the outstanding original-'Ghost Protocol' and Cruise let the hair down, but thankfully there are no 'Terminator' leather jackets or slow-motion motorbikes in sight. Instead what we see is a movie outfitted with enough action and excitement for it to be the most entertaining movie to end this year and begin the new one. This latest mission, accomplishes the incredible. It's clear this franchise isn't going to self-destruct for some time. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Thursday, 10 May 2012
By TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Leading man of the moment Jeremy Renner may just be the luckiest (or more like hardest working) actors in all of Hollywoodland. Right now the born star is owning more franchises than Robert Downey Jnr ('Iron Man' and 'Sherlock Holmes'). Currently you can find Renner in cinemas bolted up and taking aim alongside Downey Jnr's Iron Man and Scarlett Johannson's Black Widow, Chris Hemsworth's Thor, Chris Evans' Captain America and Mark Ruffalo's The Incredible Hulk in the assembling of 'The Avengers'. With a standout performance as comic book legend Hawkeye Jeremy really hit the mark with cocksure style and serious swagger. Still it's the arrow-man's other work that's really struck the bulls-eye.
This same month also saw the release on DVD of the fourth and latest 'Mission Impossible' saga. After being the best blockbuster to close out last year 'Ghost Protocol' re-energized a franchise that looked ready to self destruct. Many credit the presence of Renner and just like his hand-to-hand impressive gun steal sequence with Tom Cruise it remains to be seen if Renner will accept the mission of taking over this legendary series when Cruise finally accomplishes what he set out to do.
If he does he can bank on more hand to hand combat training this Summer as he our new A-Lister has met the grade of taking over the 'Bourne Legacy' that Matt Damon has left. At first fans where skeptical about the loss of Damon who people really see as the one true 'Bourne'. Still, however after the revelation that Renner will play another character and after an even more reassuring and incredibly exciting trailer. Now the same fans can't wait for the next chapter of 'Bourne' and Renner's legacy.
With the almost guaranteed success of 'Bourne Legacy' joining the redemption of 'Mission Impossible' and the record breaking 'Avengers' it looks like Renner has some real good job security for awhile. With a possible 'Hawkeye' spin-off and even more 'M:I' and 'Bourne' films coming as the two franchises look to battle it out over who's the next Bond-type series Jeremy's filmography looks to garner more box office returns and even more greatest hits. He could even take over Matt Damon as one of the industries most marketable stars at this rate. Needless to say, with a work-load over three different and popular, blockbuster film series' his future looks brighter than most stars. Right now Jeremy Renner's stock is soaring. It's a boom time for the actor. He hasn't made a bust yet.
It couldn't happen to a more deserving, harder working actor either. Since his nomination worthy, perfect performance in the award winning 'The Hurt Locker' which turned those blue 'Avatar's' green on Oscar night, Renner's only got better. The distinct style and substance of this character actor turned leading star really developed in 'The Town'. Standing alongside the maddest of men in Jon Hamm and Matt Damon's best director friend Ben Affleck, Renner stole the show from two of Hollywood's most popular guys with another Academy accreditation, gold worthy role. Playing a callous criminal, Renner delivered a cold and calculated performance which somehow managed to create some likable class for his bad guy alter ego. That's just the type of guy Jeremy Renner is...a likable favorite. One that looks set to find himself even more roles and friends soon.
Renner is just that real and his range just that great. The 41 year old, Modesto, California born actor who also has a side gig as a musician (he's performed some key tracks for some of his pictures soundtracks) has been around since 1995, but really started drawing big roles when he appeared in the Samuel L. Jackson and Colin Farrell hit 'S.W.A.T' and '28 Weeks Later' a decade on. Since then his blue-collar hard work and his study of the acting game has seen so much more work and success over the last few years from the critically acclaimed (Brad Pitt's 'The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford') to the future ('Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters' with Gemma Atherton). Now over the next 10 years his tenure looks set to make him even better and one of the best talents in the acting industry (there's even rumors of him taking over Kurt Russell's 'Escape From L.A.'. With a hawk eye's on the right acting protocol, Renner has overcome the impossible and is now making his own lasting legacy with avengeance.
Let the good old times roll.
Starring: Jason Biggs, Alyson Hannigan, Chris Klein, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Tara Reid, Seann William Scott, Mena Suvari & Eugene Levy. Director: Jon Hurwitz & Hayden Schlossberg. Screenplay: Jon Hurwitz &Hayden Schlossberg
This is one high-school reunion you don't want to ignore or put off. The 'American Pie' boys and girls are back for 'American Reunion' and this time it's not another case or slice of the 'Police Academy' over-kill, sequel fodder (God only knows what number sequel this is). This one really is for the good times. Stifler is throwing one more party and its about to get crazier and better than you remember. From 'Milf's' to Finches this is a real trip down American memory lane. James, Michelle, Kevin, OZ, Finch, Victoria and Heather are all back...and it's so good to see them again.
OK so if you grew up with these guys and this movie franchise then you'll know what to expect...or will you? Add some heart and some more twists and turns and you really have a great tale to reminisce on. One time this movie series was the cake, making innuendo's over flutes and classic American desserts. Before 'Superbad' teens and 'Project X' parties this teen-comedy raised the funny bar...and spiked it and now the old gangs back to teach the younger generation a thing or two.
Sure these guys must be around 40 now and if you remember your first time with the 'pie' (steady on we're talking about the film here) then you may begin to feel old...but still that's the only bad thing about this movie. Jason Biggs, Sean William Scott and Eugene Levy yet again are on hilariously favorite form, making this all look like a walk in the park all whilst showing they can run with a new gag or two. On the surface this 'American Pie' thing may seem old hat, but in the warm familiar center its all fresh...OK that was a bit weird, but from Jim's Dad to Stifler's Mum there's nothing wrong with letting the good times roll. The grosser the better. We all found this sort of stuff funny once...and we will again.
Of course times change and they do here too but that's what makes this film that much more fonder and funnier. From water cooler pranks to showing who really is the boss the Stifmeister hasn't changed and would you want him to? Seann William Scott shows us just how funny he still is and almost steals the show like always if it wasn't for the familiar favorite crop of characters that crop up too. From pop culture references to movie in jokes this is one for the nighties babies that have to come to terms with the fact that they're the new eighties babies and aren't the new kids on the block...even that reference is dated (DAMN I'm getting old).
Nothing beats nostalgia though and from the R. Kelly 'Bump and Grind' intro to all the surprises we just want to tell but can't ruin even the 'Twilight' generation would be hard pressed to get morbid over this one. It's just too smile and head roll back inducing. "Your mind may be telling you no, but your belly, your belly laughs will be saying yeah, yeah, yeah. I don't want to hurt anybody but there's something, something that I must confess...I didn't see anything wrong with this movie". So pull your socks up and don't come too late, because you don't want to miss the reunion. TIM DAVID HARVEY.