Thursday, 24 January 2013



Genuine Grit.

165 Mins. Starring: Jamie Foxx, Christophe Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington & Samuel L. Jackson. Director: Quentin Tarantino.

Q.T. Quentin Tarantino is about to blow up...quite literally. After shooting and scalping Nazi's in 'Inglorious Basterds', Q unleashes his latest off the chain to add to his classic catalog of 'Pulp Fiction', 'Jackie Brown' and the 'Kill Bill' series. 'Django Unchained' adds more sauce and ketchup blood to the Spaghetti Western genre taking shots at slave owners with his own 'Basterd' take on history. Hold on to your spurs and scalps it's Q.T. revenge time again with the coldest blooded movie of the year.

From the old, classic 'Colombia' intro to the 'Django' theme and traditional-now hallmark-Tarantino opening credits this movie feels like an old Western with real 'True Grit'. Bravo to Q as his 'Rio' tale is both respectful to the genre and racial subject matter. Sure the 'N' word is used far too much more then his infamous "storage" cameo in 'Pulp' or the latest hip-hop album and there are two brutal scenes so graphic and disturbing that you won't be able to keep your focus, seat or lunch. What makes these scenes so much more horrific is the innocent victims who are mutilated without mercy. Normally to Tarantino's credit he deals his harshest punishment to his most abhorrent characters. Still this feels like more then Quentin's taste for the tasteless. From Musketeer references to swashbuckling stabs at modern day desensitization Quentin has something to really say. Kerry Washington at one point thought a slave mask scene was Tarantino taking it too far again until she read up the history books and saw that's how graphic it got. He's just showing us how really bad it was with no holes barred (speaking of which a scene that makes humiliation out of the KKK is truly hilarious) and then exacting glorious, 'Inglorious' style revenge over the guilty with Sam Jackson "strike down" vengeance.

Speak of the devil...and he shall appear. Samuel J. Jackson is back with his 'Fiction' partner aging and shaking his way into a horrible but hilarious character....FACT! The man who really is in everything as well as every Avenger film plays his best role in years. Old and new friends alike of Quentin Tarantino saddle up as the ever charming and charismatic Christophe Waltz shows he is just as convincing and cool as a good guy as he is as the sinister but sublime villain he was in 'Inglorious'. From his sweet and sincere chemistry with 'Django' telling him stories and teaching him to read, to acting as bartender with Tarantino precision, the attention to detail is perfect. The wonderful Waltz with leads the deserved Oscar nominations with every twist of his exceptional beard, tipping shells off his cap with style. The whole cast is class from our damsel in distress Kerry Washington to some classic cameos led by the Don Johnson and the current young king of comedy.

The real villain in this piece however is Leonardo DiCaprio's cruel and callous Calvin Candie. From his extravagance to his eccentric behavior and dedication and improvisation (DiCaprio actually drew his own blood in one scene and played through the pain) Leo's cancerous Candie is a star sign of truly one of the best bad guys played by a man who's so used to playing the conflicted hero. Drawing sinister scowls with every draw of his cigarette and Southern accented drawl 'Caprio hammers it down. This is yet another career turn for the classic catalog of the leader of leading men of our times. With the classic story of 'The Great Gatsby' coming next, Leo turns a page by shining in a movie that isn't even his.

Because the fact is this picture belongs to Jamie Foxx and despite critics saying he's the weak link among a cast of eccentrics his charisma earns his spurs as the strongest suit. From horsing around to whipping slave masters into submission (now that graphic scene is actually a deserved guilt pleasure) Foxx owns everybody. This role was originally meant for 'Wild, Wild West' Will Smith (who has filming 'Men In Black III') but despite Smith's leading excellence this feels more like Foxx's part. Jamie being the closest Hollywood player to Will in friendship and greatness and versatility (even beating him on that final point). Jamie doesn't even have to speak to act amazing and when he let's his guns do the talking backed by some Tupac, he really makes himself heard. The honored hero stands out, standing in a showdown with his persecutor in a blue frilly suit but this singer and comedian is no joke. With his one-liners ("Touch your guns and you die" and "I like the way you die boy" is just the start) and pistol, this man will have the last laugh, going out with a bang. Bullseye!

Three hours may be a long run time to sit through but it didn't do too bad for 'The Hobbit' or 'Les Mis'. Besides from American classic cinematography to Western shootouts that have more 'Heat' then 'The Town' (replacing the old smoke shots with blood spurts) believe me you'll be entertained in this engrossing epic, even when it goes down-under. In a saloon of its own from the fashions to the fedoras and the suspected style to the surprising substance the wilder west will never be the same. Listen out too for a soulful soundtrack and the traditional Tarantino dynamic dialogue at the heart. This is truly one of the great modern-day directors best classics. Just remember, "the 'D' is silent Hillbilly". TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013



L.A. Lawless.

113 Minutes. Starring: Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Sean Penn, Nick Nolte, Emma Stone, Anthony Mackie, Giovanni Ribisi, Robert Patrick & Michael Pena. Director: Ruben Fleischer.

"We're losing Los Angeles" Nick Nolte grumbles. No he's not talking about the Lakers handing over their basketball STAPLE to the Clippers. Rather the proverbial "damsel in distress" that his perfectly played police chief, Hollywoodland city of the 1940's is. Sean Penn's devilish crime-boss, Mickey Cohen rules the city of angels with a Tommy Gun fist and its up to the G-Men to go above and beyond their hands of law to bring L.A. its shine back. That's the picture set for 'Gangster Squad'. A cops and robbers affair that see the good guys gone bad only going by the book in regards to the script based on Paul Lieberman's 'Tales From The Gangster Squad'.

Cop this, after showing the 'No Country For Old Men' wild west he had 'True Grit' and raising his stock in 'Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps', Josh Brolin is charged with putting a team together to bring the West back. Boy does he lead well too, even taking some shine off poster boy Ryan Gosling (who almost had to battle for face-time with housewives, heartthrob favorite Bradley Cooper who was rumored to star). Gosling terrifically teeters between 'Drive' driven silent, sinister action acting and romancing the stone of his 'Crazy, Stupid Love' co-star Emma Stone (heck Cohen's bar may as well be the same place where Gosling taught Steve Carrell how to coral women). The perfect on screen pair show they still have the chemistry and charisma to show that they are the leading kings and queens of new Hollywood at the moment.

What would a crack unit be like without experience? Following his excellent 'End Of Watch' police story with Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Pena goes back in time and back to the law with a forceful performance. 'The Winter Soldier', Anthony Mackie also falcon flies after proving he was Oscar battle tested in 'The Hurt Locker', showing yet again just how much he can soar. What would any film be at the moment without the best character actor in the game Giovanni Ribisi however? A man who is working so hard like he was trying to shed the 'just call him Phoebe's brother in the credits' tag. After stuffing 'Ted' and 'Contraband' with Mark Wahlberg last year, the most versatile man in Hollywood gives this film it's technical and emotional punch. If that isn't enough how about the cool-hand of the T-1000? As Robert Patrick puts magnum force behind this film with a handlebar mustache.

With a cast of characters that runs longer than a rap sheet and some perfectly picturesque, postcard imagery of old Los Angeles this is almost the perfect picture. Still some ill-advised shots and likenesses to old favorites-which to this films credit its paying homage to rightly-means this film could never touch a classic like 'The Untouchables', but hey that's the Chicago way. They had Elliott Ness and Al Capone. Still this film was always going to have its detractors and those calling for its cut, after it was already pushed back due to the Aurora shootings in America. Give the people behind this film credit however for cutting and changing a pivotal cinema scene out of respect to the tragedy of 'The Dark Knight Rises' cinema shootings. It was the right thing to do. The only thing that could be done.

Troubles aside this film still suits and works well with styles and old-fashions as cool as the soulful Jay-Z song that called shotgun with the trailers. With amazing action and classic cinematography this is one for the books. Just check out a shining, driving character change moment from Gosling, where he also seems to tone down an accent that might have voiced more criticism all at the same time. What results is a scene as classic and sharp as his "no m'am I was just hoping to take you to bed" one-liner to Stone. With more scenes like that and the Chinatown change that proved to be as pivotal as the original intended third-act scripting, this film could almost make Costner, Connery, Garcia and De Niro proud. Still it'll have to be content holding the same Tommy as Michael Mann and Johnny Depp's John Dillinger in 'Public Enemies'. The real gangster story will always lie with the line of fire of the Chicago code. TIM DAVID HARVEY.