Sunday, 30 September 2012



Political Punchline Points.

85 Mins. Starring: Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, Jason Sudeikis, Katherine LaNasa, Dylan McDermott, John Lithgow, Dan Aykroyd, Brian Cox. Director: Jay Roach. 

Forget Romney vs Obama for a moment...for 'The Campaign' is truly the funniest election battle of the year. For many terms now Will Ferrell has been the undisputed King of Comedy, from making 'Saturday Night' truly 'Live' to being the 'Anchorman' of classic comedies like 'Talladega Nights', 'Blades Of Glory', 'Semi-Pro', 'Step Brothers' and 'The Other Guys', but since one wild night, two 'Hangovers' and a 'Due Date' later Will has a one man wolf-pack to contend with in one of the funniest men around in Zach Galifianakis. 

Now the two go head-to-head in a campaign battle for congress with hilarious consequences mixing everything from snake bites to baby punches in this dog fight of rivals. This film pulls it all in the name of getting your vote and laugh with a battalion of gags and talent. Now who will win? Cast your ballot for who is the best in this picture... 

Vote for Will. Fresh off his impersonation trail of touring his George Bush stage show Will Ferrell is welcomed back to funny films with a familiar but fond, favorite performance as the perfectly named, too good to be true politician Cam Brady. Between all the shouting and pain induced rib-ticklers you remember just how funny he is. "America, Jesus and freedom"'re welcome.

Vote for Zach. It may be Galifianakis that makes the last ditch, surprise run here. Trimming the trademark hair and shaving the legendary facial fuzz to a maestro mustache, Zach camps it up with a performance that is different then his usual style, making the Alan characterization forgotten (the only similarity to his beardy-weirdy is their love for gender-crossing accessories to keep all their things). With a sweet, charmingly shy character Marty Higgins will get your vote over his alpha-male opponent.

Still both candidates have plenty support in their respective blue and red corners. That's thanks to some hilarious support from guys like Brian Cox and Dylan McDermott, to go along with legends of laughs like John Lithgow and Dan Akroyd sitting in their chairs almost channeling those old, complaining Muppets from the balcony. It's all good though and someone to elect in the future is the rising talent of Jason Sudeikis, complete here with a campaign commentary worthy accent. The man who's stock rose last year with the two best comedies of last year ('Hall Pass' with Owen Wilson and the ensemble 'Horrible Bosses') will one day be the next top funny man of these United States.

Ferrell and Adam McKay have done it again. They may have a fuzzy bear and streets named '21 Jump' to contend with on this campaign trail for the president title of comedy of the year but as Ferrell and Galifianakis go neck-and-neck, commercial for commercial and cheap shot for cheap shot, with 'Iron Man', Tony Stark expo like expeditions to be the next Captain America the laughs rise like popularity lines. Armed with Jon Stewart satire but unfortunately no cameo (still, see their dual interview on 'The Daily Show' that really goes 'H.A.M.M.') this is one comedy that even the White House would find funny. After all in the middle of all the politics as usual it's nice to hear a little light relief that is really saying something. I'm Tim Harvey and I hilariously approve this movies message. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Saturday, 22 September 2012



Strumming Their Pain With His Trigger Finger.

Starring: Brad Pitt, Richard Jenkins, Ray Liotta, James Galdofini & Sam Shepard. Director: Andrew Dominik.

"This is America..." Brad Pitt's character tells Richard Jenkins' in 'Killing Them Softly', "...and in America you're on your own". This notion could be arguably be attributed to Hollywood's biggest star who is still somewhat disregarded in this movie industry, despite his worldwide fame as one of the most famous faces in acting. Brad Pitt may be one of the biggest names around like his 'Ocean's' co-star George Clooney but still like his partner in crime his talent in still somewhat underrated.

He belongs with the Leonardo DiCaprios as the best in the game, but still some play him-like they did Leo-as just a pretty boy turned good. They should be thinking great. Perhaps they haven't seen his medicated magnificence in 'Twelve Monkeys' or the punches he pulls in 'Fight Club'. Nor his conflicted classic, flawless finale in the devilishly good 'Seven', or his latest out of the park big swing with 'Moneyball' to name just a select few. Just wait until these same people and critics are shot down by his chilling, killer performance in 'Killing Them Softly'.

No this is not a film about that rap group the Fugees, but instead a refugee of the law as Brad complete with all chain-smoking leathers, sinister, slicked back hair and hard worn beard plays a hitman that brings more darkness and death than a late Johnny Cash song. And they're the type of 'American Recordings' (see the trailer or Brad's opening act at least 20 minutes in) that make for the perfect soundtrack backdrop. When this man comes around you know there's trouble and when he takes names few will be free amongst the blamed. As he says he "likes to kill them softly...from a distance", and as Brad goes the distance like a 'Moneyball' strike he really hits home.

The rising city of New Orleans serves as a beautiful but brutal backdrop in a noir thriller that even scares the crap out of mafia veteran Ray Liotta. He, plus Soprano legend James Gandolfini, Jenkins and two guys pulling the job make for a great cast in a slow burner that ignites with the switch-click of a lighter towards ashes to ashes action before the last cigar. Through blowing smoke to putting everyone's lights out it's Pitt who illuminates, the shining star coolly walking amongst fireworks before a monologue closer as thrilling as the climax.

Set in the changing times of America from Bush's fall to Obama's elected rise this film has some political points of its own to make too. From the distorted, smack the side of the T.V. start it all gets as drawn out and sinister as Pitt's slow motion, stop camera, stop beat scenes. This bleak picture is delivered in a bold and brilliant way, from robberies more akward than a bad first date to cold calculated killings with clinical precision. From Tarantino like conversations to rain soaked classic cars this is a trip through past and present Americana. Talking the talk and muscling up for with the best this is real thriller that pays homage to the greats. Delivered with execution this murder tale does things the hard way. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Friday, 14 September 2012



Avenge This.

Starring: Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston & Samuel L. Jackson. Director: Joss Whedon. Screenplay: Joss Whedon

Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Black Widow, Hawkeye and The Incredible Hulk are finally here comic book fans. 'The Avengers' initiative has assembled (especially in other countries where this film is called 'Avenger Assemble' due to copy-write laws from that 'Avengers' film starring Ralph Fiennes and Uma Thurman). It's hard to believe its been four years since 'Iron Man' bolted up our blockbuster screens back in 2008 but since then we've had a lot of great Avenger movies to Marvel at until this. An 'Iron Man' sequel, 'The Incredible Hulk', 'Thor' and 'Captain America-The First Avenger' where all bold and brilliant back-story movies all leading to this. Now after doing the reverse of fellow celluloid comic series 'X-Men' and having their origin stories first 'The Avengers' are all coming together for the ultimate battle and blockbuster.

By the hammer of Thor this is a great movie and by the shield of Captain America this is one of the best superhero movies of all time. By the metal of Iron Man its certainly the most entertaining and by the ripped shirt of Hulk its definitely the most thrilling. 'The Hunger Games' can take a back seat now and 'The Dark Knight Rises' can wait its turn because right now its 'The Avengers' that is rising and breaking and setting box office records. Its time is now. All those Samuel L. Jackson cameos were worth it (he really IS in everything). Nick Fury has assembled a kick ass team and the gangs all here with some familiar favorite faces too. Geeks and fans who treat comic books like sacred text (stand up) can rejoice, look out for that Stan Lee cameo and wait after the credits as per.

New York City under attack serves as the biggest stage for this movie to be set and looking part like a disaster movie and part like the last 'Transformers' piece the sense of peril is pitched perfectly. The evil, manipulative schemes of Loki (from 'Thor') are back and this time with an army. Once again Tom Hiddleston plays Loki incredibly hamming it up to a Shakespeare level when needed but being seriously sinister for the most part. Chris Hemsworth steps up the bold bravado once again for a Titan strong representation of 'Thor' but the hammer doesn't just drop there.

Of course there's Iron Man played with all the classic charisma and charm of Robert Downey Jnr, but add a little more concern, desperation and that good, deep acting that made Downey Jnr who he is and you really have some character development here. We can't forget the Captain too as Chris Evans once again leads strong as the famous 'First Avenger' with all the pride and honor of a battle-tested soldier. We're just glad they broke the ice. With more screen time Samuel L. Jackson shows just how great he is at bringing everything together as Nick Fury with a little bit of great help from Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill and Clark Gregg as Phil Coulson. While Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow) and Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye) give killer performances as the Avengers super assassins. With this, and a new aim on the 'Mission Impossible' and 'Bourne' series' Renner has really hit the bulls-eye.

The biggest and greenest new addition is Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk. It seems the mean green machine has been played by more people then Doctor Who, from Eric Bana playing Dr. Banner to Edward Norton's recent rebooted turn as Bruce. Still with Norton's blessing Ruffalo really steps in and breaks out of the torn clothes perfectly. His anger is managed incredibly, from his tense and taught acting to being the first actor to actually perform the Hulk scenes...of course with a lot of green screen and leotard. Now wouldn't that be funny to see standing next to a bunch of guys that already look like they're at some strange fancy dress party?

A freak show this special force is not though. From formidable forest battles to city scraping, sky high action the enthusiasm and energy of this ensemble piece is incredible. Sure its not as dark as 'Batman' or as tailored to kids as much as 'Spiderman' but this middle-ground, movie medium makes for the happiest. It's tense and thrilling but also hilariously funny and even moving in parts. 'Buffy' director Joss Whedon has really slayed this one from drawing the tension between the Avengers, all whilst showing the initiative to bring it all together like he was wearing an eye patch. This just all looks so good. Its on trail to exceed 'The Dark Knight' and 'The Hunger Games' at the box office and its already exceeded all expectation. The 'Justice League' better bring it as now we can't wait for 'Iron Man 3' or if they can assemble again 'The Avengers 2'. TIM DAVID HARVEY.


With 'The Avengers' assembling this week our 'DVD Rack' special looks at the origin films of this Marvel series.

IRON MAN: Let's take a look back to where it all started. With his charisma and charm Robert Downey Jnr breathed new life into the 'Avengers' superhero genre with Gwyneth Paltrow by his faithful side. Hilarious and thrilling, the graphics and the action where sublime thanks to Jon Faverau's direction (he'll be missed). Speaking of those missed by the franchise Terrence Howard raised his and the films stock (although Don Cheadle got his 'next time baby'). While fan favourite and all time nice guy Jeff Bridges (dude where's your hair?) made a surprisingly sinister, coldly convincing villain. Like AC/DC on the score this heavy metal rocked!

IRON MAN 2: How about some more metal from Tony Stark? Jon Faverau may not be on board for 'Iron Man 3' and Terrence Howard may have been replaced but this sequel proved that the 'Iron Man' franchise was still working, even with a little tinkering. Robert Downey Jnr brought his usual effortless charm and humor as he helped lift this superhero off the ground one more time. Ironman got an even better villain this time with Mickey Rourke playing the menacing Whiplash. As for Tony Starks sidekick, Don Cheadle filled in quite nicely as Lieutenant Rhodes and once he supped up that War Machine suit 'Iron Man 2' brought an artillery of action. An army of A listers filled out the cast from the cheesily charismatic villain of Sam Rockwell to Scarlett Johansson and that brilliant costume department. With another hilarious Stan Lee cameo and another 'Avengers' preview, Iron Man showed he was the king of the Marvel franchise.

THE INCREDIBLE HULK: You WILL like Edward Norton when he's angry! Ripping the Eric Bana, Bruce Banner shirt off before handing it down to Mark Ruffalo, Norton does an incredible job as the Hulk. In a mean and moody performance he casts a green light on the character for others to be envious about. Only Ruffalo has managed to be meaner and greater. With support from the brilliant and beautiful Liv Tyler and the sinister and sublime Tim Roth this movie is a beast. Growling proud the finale fight is incredible and gives a nod to the now closed but legendary iconic 'Sam Record's' store in Toronto, Canada. Timeless. After Iron Man helped The Avengers take off, The Hulk helped the rebooted franchise roar on.

THOR: It doesn't get much bolder and brilliant then this. Chris Hemsworth really put the hammer down as 'Thor' with a meaty performance. Joining legend Anthony Hopkins and the classically trained Tom Hiddleston the battle for who would be king and their fathers most favoured is hammed up to the max and what a bold blockbuster this is with plenty of bravado. With awesome action, genuine gags and a bit of Natalie Portman what else could you ask for? It's '300' on steroids with a Flash like Gordon between realms and worlds. It be arguably the funnest of all the Avengers adventures. BAWDY!

CAPTAIN AMERICA-THE FIRST AVENGER: The first Marvel superhero made for the final original Avangers movie before they all assembled for the ensemble picture released this week. Chris Evans gave a leading performance with charm and courage. In this perfectly placed, somewhat period piece our Captain shielded the notion that Captain America is an outdated or corny character, Evans helped swing the part to the modern day with class, With legends Tommy Lee Jones, Hugo Weaving and Stanley Tucci and the irresistible Hayley Atwell behind him. This picture armed itself with a battalion of talent. Dark and moody in parts but uplifting and inspirational in others, this is the perfect soldier for honouring the brave and best. Salute! TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012




18. 115 Minutes. Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke & Guy Pearce. Director: John Hillcoat. Screenplay: Nick Cave.

If you love classic, period crime pieces like 'The Untouchables' and 'Public Enemies' then you're going to be all over these 'Lawless' criminals. Based on the autobiographical book 'The Wettest County in the World' by Matt Bondurant (the story of his brothers are bonded here from the old pages to the cinematic stages) this act turner of liquor and lives flows perfectly. This is all thanks to the collaboration of director John Hilllcoat and singer/songwriter/screenwriter legend Nick Cave who provides an amazing audio backdrop to a brutal, beautiful, bold and brilliant American story of past times for a new generation.

'Lawless' concerns the small-town, true tale, illegal activity of the Bondurant brothers. It's whiskey business (moonlighting moonshine to be exact) but business is good. That's thanks to great performances by Tom Hardy and Jason Clarke and Shia LaBeouf who wants in too like Gary Oldman and his gang of Al Capone wannabes. Business may be booming, but a threat is looming as Guy Pearce and his squad of police want to put our bootleggers out of business. Add a couple of leading ladies to be (in Mia Wasikowska and Jessica Chastain) and you have a potent perfect mix that hits hard, straight with no chaser.

Set in old Franklin County, Virginia, this small town affair is a big-screen, post Summer blockbuster that is one of the best pictures of the year. Viciously violent but honestly heartfelt, this truly tense and grueling gripping film leaves you further to the edge of your seat than just another tired cliche. This classically worked, traditional tale is one that left this writer gritting his teeth and scratching at the arms of his seat. That doesn't even happen with horror movies anymore. Perhaps it's because of the horrific, hard-hitting violent action. Or maybe the thrilling emotional resonance which is rose with the stakes. Blood, sweat and tears are shed for the hardest worked and genuinely real, formidable feature.

If you thought that Tom Hardy's biggest, boldest and best performance this year (or ever) came with his incoherent but inspired, back breaking, muscle bound role as Batman's strongest nemesis Bane in 'The Dark Knight Rises' you'd be wrong. Just like he did in 2011 with last years best picture ('Warrior') Hardy surprises us again. Now why the man-who is overcoming the likes of Fassbender and Gordon-Levitt to be the current, go-to, best around-is still surprising us with his talent is beyond us.

Maybe it's because he's just that good. The most versatile, chameleon character around. Another one of those actors you forget is British. As the last of the Batman trilogy is still drawing a post-Summer crowd and record breaking box-office returns Hardy hits us once again with another stellar show. The Marlon Brando mumbling is back-along with the weight-but with an accent that is distinctive by the drawl and more seriously sublime scenes than he has cardigans, Hardy's hard-worked, distant but right there depth of emotional acting rules over this picture like his big brother characters legend.

If you think that method acting is magnificent then wait until you see the maddening methods of Guy Pearce. In some ways looking even older than his 'Prometheus' character the ever versatile and vastly underrate Pearce toes the opposite line of the law than his goody, two shoes character in the classic 'L.A. Confidential'. For the record here Pearce's feet are placed firmly in the bad guy boots. With a sinister sneer this vicious, vile villain is as disgusting as his slicked back hair. With every guilty act he combs over in the name of the law, you'll be convinced he's on the wrong side and just how callous his character is will make you-for this film-hate the good Guy Pearce. Now that's the mark of an incredible actor.

He even makes Gary Oldman's tommy-gun toting gangster look tame. Still as Gary joins up with Batman co-star Hardy like he did on 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy' he gives another signature performance alongside great support from Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain and Jason Clarke. Still the real draw of this movie is the surprise, breakthrough, performance from Shia LaBeouf. With heart and soul and plenty of resonating, emotional tears to boot, Shia develops as an actor through this film like his character. From bashfully shy and retiring to confident, this coming of age part transforms this former Disney child to a significant player just like his afforded role in 'Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps' did for his acting account. LaBeouf brings sheer brilliance to this film. Those who underrated him will understand this man now. If he keeps bringing the passionate parts like this, the love and roles are going to craft quite a career.

'Lawless' is flawless. This prohibition era piece is perfectly epic. The cinematography is as classically beautiful as the old fashions, automobiles and Western style saloons. This cowboy tale is a wildly worked classic. Blazing like brimstone the taught tension boils as the blood does. From formidable fist and fire fights to intimidating and influential matters of the mind you have to get a cut of this. They didn't make films like this anymore...until now. The old ones are always the best and this really is the new timeless motion picture captured for the mainstream. Now you'll drink to that. TIM DAVID HARVEY.