Sunday, 30 August 2015
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
Over and over Jessica Chastain keeps doing it again and again. Now I know what you're thinking. 'Male writer writes an article about one of Hollywood's hottest leading ladies, it's going to be all about how beautiful she is'. No...even if she is! Maybe you're thinking with the recent success this summer of one of 2015's biggest blockbusters 'Jurassic World' this is going to be some confused comparison piece to another hot red head actress at the top of her game Bryce Dallas Howard. What?! Are you kidding me? Are we really going to make those stupid statements over something like red hair? What have you never seen a strawberry blonde before? We're here talking about how Jessica Chastain is one of Hollywood's best actresses like fellow greats Cate Blanchet or Julianne Moore regardless of hairstyle (let alone one of the best actors, gender regardless in a seemingly still sexist entertainment industry). Whether she's acting whilst looking like she does off screen. Or going blonde on blonde for the legendary likes of her breakout 'The Help' or last falls formidable 'A Most Violent Year'. Or blacking out the red for the forthcoming gothic horror 'Crimson Peak' the tide of Chastain's talent lies in how she delivers her lines not her looks. And 2015 is looking to be her year over and over again like the last couple of calendars. With two more films in the next couple of months, whether you think this girl from Sacramento, California in a twin of Dallas or not, she's a Maverick actress looking to be queen at the peak of her career. Going for the throne again and again. Over and over.
Crimson and clover. Now how's this for a red dawn double? First we have Gullimero del Toro's horror 'Crimson Peak' alongside the Loki talents of British actor Tom Hiddleston who we wouldn't be surprised if he got confused with Benedict Cumberbatch as the classically trained actor is on his own meteoric rise of fan girl letters and filmography scripts. This film, too looks to be on the peculiarly perfect 'Pans Labyrinth' level of being something of legacy making legend for the twin, top-billing stars and Chastain looks chilling in 'Crimson' and a maroon, traditional dress to match. Then after the tide of 'Crimson' comes a trip to the red planet to rescue 'Martian' Matt Damon lost in space and stranded on mars for the latest Ridley Scott epic that is more blockbuster botany than big budget 'Alien'. One of falls early favourites looks like it could even ground the Oscar winning 'Gravity' in this new 'Apollo 13' age of year end more real world space dramas, coming after all the science and superhero fiction seemingly started by Sandra. If you think this looks a little familiar that's because it is. Jessica Chastain starred in an out of this world, trek across the universe stars that saw Matt Damon lost on another planet in the Christopher Nolan inspired 'Interstellar' (is it too late to be a spoiler warning?). Only this time instead of aging at a rapid Mackenzie Foy to retiring rate in what seems like mere evergreen McConaughey minutes, Chastain leads a mutinous rescue mission to bring the boy Damon back home. This has the makings of one of her most thrilling and action packed roles, coupling with the classic dramatic tension she also brought to the likes of 'Interstellar' where grounded on a dying earth she tried to save the planet whilst finding family such galaxies and time lines away, Mars looked like a next door neighbour.
Next to 'Interstellar', 'The Martian' has a whole wide universe to live up to, especially Jessica's performance of a young woman dealing with the emotions of having her father millions of miles away from the heart of home, if even alive. It was a moving performance not even on the same set as the rest of the top cast that put her right there with the top-billed Anne Hathaway and Matthew McConaughey. One emotional, tear evoking scene with McConaughey having the makings of something that could have even hit the viewer a little too close to home...and this was with Chastain's filmed side of this distorted by a grainy video screen...there's no Skype in space. Beyond the obvious use of dramatic effect, just imagine how powerful this picture would be if you could see the portrait perfectly? Now next to this if you thought Jessica Chastain's fall double header had a mountain of planetary peaks to live up to than you would be right. But due to what else Jess gave us last year for one of the movie industries most foremost leading ladies as she aims to be a Hollywood double-threat each year...and perhaps even season for one of the hardest working actresses in the industry today. Next to the acting equivalent of her star soaring stock Oscar Issac-who looked like the next Pacino or De Niro here-Chastain started in 'A Most Violent Year'. A most incredible movie that was so much more in meaning and intent than the usual guns and gore gangster films. The only thing really violent about it was its assault on a morally deficit world of money and murder...and it did this with Iceman ice-cold calculation. Armed with old-school money counting machines, a weekend with Marylin blonde bob, some of the most stylish outfits a woman could wear with class in the 80's and a vintage Lady Macbeth like performance, Chastain at 'Best' deserved a nomination like Oscar in an Academy robbed classic...I mean was this all irony with Issac's name? Award or not, the acclaim is critically clear, 'A Most Violent Year' is a most definite classic...and you don't need Bill and Ted to tell you how bogus everything else is.
All this from someone who is yet to be in this acting game for a full decade. Someone who was introduced to us in the 2008 film 'Jolene' about a character based on the Dolly Parton song after a television debut of real drama in the moving medical show 'E.R.' and some terrific theatre with Al Pacino on stage for 'Salome'. 'Jolene' did more than take Dolly's man, she served as a breakthrough role in more ways than one that saw Chastain win the Best Actress nod at the Seattle Film Festival as she made acting her new 9 to 5. Now still to this day she is proof positive to any aspiring actress looking past all the script stereotypes of age that its never too late to start and now the young woman is carving out quite the career that even someone as legendary as Meryl Streep would kill to have back in the day with the roles Chastain's reaped and sowed with success. This is all thanks to the help of films like 'The Help' that may have been the success story of the likes of Emma Stone, Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer, but also that of Jessica and a certain co-star, Bryce Dallas Howard in playing some harder characters to love. It's just the testament to how terrific an actress and her character development portrayal is when she can still draw appeal and acclaim under these circumstances of playing a kind, albeit naive character. Similar can be said for the likes of 'Zero Dark Thirty', not that there was anything wrong with Jessica's now iconic, award nominated character that was a real heroine between the desk and the battlefield in a modern day world that seems to only glorify female heroes if they are in fictional, skimpy tights. More like the controversy that surrounded America's manhunt of Osama Bin Laden following the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Although such controversy goes to battle with any war. Besides we'll leave the politics to that arena. Everybody who showed up at 12:30 for this movie did an honourable and dutiful job, but none as commendation worthy as Jessica who gave us a driven, exhaustive, relentless, emotionally drained and duty over hope reinvigorated characterization of an unsung heroine. You could tell from every time she wrote the number of days on the glass window if her superior in thumped marker, quite simply behind "her confidence" of black suit jacket and shades, she wasn't f###### around!
Check the content of the rest of this actresses work and you can see the same expletive is explicitly true here. From hit horrors like 'Mama' and scene-stealing, going for broke to 'The Debt'. We haven't even begun to scratch the surface of the two time Academy Award nominees , 'And The Winner Is...' future. From Hemsworth's 'The Huntsman' sequel (after scheming with Loki its time for some Thor) to 'Snow White' and 'The Zookeepers Wife'. Not to mention whatever else is on the cards for someone the testament to the Time Magazine naming as one of the worlds '100 Most Influential People'. If Brad Pitt really is set to play legendary American Dream rock icon Bruce Springsteen one day, then we have just the lady to play the bosses wife Patty as they take residence on E Street...and no we don't mean because of the hair. And not just because of Chastain being pitted against husband Brad in 'The Tree Of Life' either. Although the inner conflict of characters was offset by an outstanding outside looking glass of beauty in all this world and times beauty that made this Terrence Malick classic his most mesmerising. More than the vivid visual however, Jessica Chastain should have been "the winner is" for best actress Oscar...and not a supporting nod either. This was just as much her picture as the brilliant Brad or even the whole cinematic canvas. After this wonderful moment in movies we can't even guess why her reunited work in Malick's 'To The Wonder' was cut, although sometimes it just works like that. More worthy acclaim has come from the support of Michael Shannon in 'Take Shelter' or the diverse, versatility of acting in the 'Texas Killing Fields' not to mention more song character inspired musings in 'The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby' which would even make Beatle legend John Lennon proud. And lets not forget one of 2012's underrated and best 'Lawless' where Jessica took no prisoners as a strong female character of stand by her man solidarity. Neither should we forget that the woman who recently narrated 'Unity' has also lent her voice to star in 'Madagascar'. The world really is hers for this actress still with all being said an underrated quality, not to mention versatility. An actress who has worked with directors like Scott, Malick, Del Toro, Nolan and Bigelow and leading men actors like Pitt, McConaughey, Damon, Pratt, Isaac, Hardy, Hemsworth and Hiddleston. With so much already done in such little time and so much more to come, 'Crimson's' Chastain is still a Mars distance away from her peak. But when we finally see it in all its glory it's going to be something beautiful. And for anyone confusing her talent in that moment, for them, it'll all be over!
Friday, 28 August 2015
Raiders Of The Lost Angeles.
147 Minutes. Starring: O'Shea Jackson, Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, Aldis Hodge, Neil Brown Jnr & Paul Giamatti. Director F. Gary Gray.
You are about to witness the strength of street knowledge. Straight into cinemas comes 'Straight Outta Compton'. The story of Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, M.C. Ren, D.J. Yella and the late, great, one and only Eazy, Mother####### (yeah I said it) E. Five rappers (yeah I'm not going to say it) with attitude who weren't afraid to tell the law where to go. Sure Dr. Dre's protege Eminem had '8 Mile' but these boys are '100 Miles and Running', expressing themselves in ways were these public enemies ran past the legendary likes of DMC, De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest and Chuck D and Flava Flav to be number one back in hip-hops golden era of the 80's that showed they where the worlds most dangerous group. But this movie is more than just the masses moving music slapped with the first real parental advisory sticker that inspired every hip-hop legend and star today from Snoop Dogg to Kendrick Lamar. This explicit content that birthed gangster rap served as the soundtrack for a critical part of modern day Los Angeles and American history. As the City of Angels was ignited by the hell-fire of the L.A. riots that ravaged the Californian city in response to the police brutality in the abhorrent beating of Rodney King. N.W.A. where a force to be reckoned with that stood up to injustice with a middle finger, raised from the city of Compton and the survival of the fittest nature of a violent upbringing that the police often rolled right past. Cube, Dre, Easy, Yella and Ren's low-riding concrete crushing bass was a Los Angeles Raider baseball bat snapping sound that struck back at the billy club (or as Ren realistically put it "silly" club) brutality with emphatic energy and excitement that's all evoked here. The spokesmen of a raw and ignored generation became Los Angeles Kings and world famous like the Lakers even without Magic. Now in a modern time where things still haven't changed much and now innocent black lives are being reduced to nothing like they don't matter by trigger happy enforcers, we need this movie that may even surpass the likes of 'Boyz In Da Hood' and 'Menace To Society' more than ever. Keeping it lit like the chronic, today is a good day for Dre and N.W.A. to show you what time it is.
So lets get straight to it. Dr. Dre himself has laid down the perfect soundtrack to this movie with his last album and his first in sixteen eagerly anticipated and long awaited years of 'Detox' in the form of the new classic 'Compton'. The perfect bass for the billionaires Beats venture to play. Still here the young Corey Hawkins shows us an episode of Andre Young's life where he was mixing in Ice Cube's ready to melt, no A.C. living room, after the billionaire was kicked out by his mum in a desperate attempt to help him make more of himself than being worth just a few lousy bucks. Yet scratching away at the turntables like a young Jazzy Jeff in his prime we see the passion of the person that produced all this and is showing us right now that he has always been the Dre you still see today and can't forget. And the actor Hawkins whose previous credits include 'Iron Man 3' and Tybalt in the latest 'Romeo & Juliet' adaptation captures the poise and presence of this icon perfectly. Not to mention the voice...hell yeah! Meanwhile rolling down the street in his 64, the scripts are coming in like rap sheets for new dope actor of the moment Jason Mitchell who is a ruthless mix of raw and real as Eazy-E. Thumping his chest with pride after landing a role in the new 'Kong' movie, Mitchell crowns a throne worthy performance as the original king of gangster hip-hop. Yet its his sobering and shedding portrayal of this fallen rap royalties brave battle with HIV that really succumbs to new depths of acting and understanding. He does more than just pour out a little liquor, the little dynamo, dynamite actor makes a significant stand. Eric E. Wright would be proud...so will his son who we all originally thought would be cast in honour...until now. One son who makes pops proud in his testament of tribute is O'Shea Jackson-or should we say mini-Ice Cube-who plays his dad with a dedication that only the flesh and blood of family can understand. You might of thought that the former gangster rapper that makes family movies and has recently hit with the 'Jump Street' and 'Ride Along' franchises could play himself. But yo, someone tell Dre that the son of Ice Cube has got something to say too, taking the black clothes and hats off ice. From the Jeri curls to the bald dome, O'Shea is a cut above the rest as pops and almost looks the product of a time machine or a cloning one. With all sorts of cubism going on there's even a moment where O'Shea Jackson as pops holds a young baby son...that's himself. Weird huh? It's kind of a wonder too. Something that even had Ice Cube joking that he'd disappear from family photos like Marty McFly in a surreal moment like this, but go back to the future here and you'll see a perfect portrait that will last for the new generations that get to learn about the forefathers of their favourite form of music. Now someone call Chris Tucker for this Film For Friday, because O'Shea just knocked this part the f### out.
Still this attitude is nothing without the rest of N.W.A. And Aldis Hodge who over the span of a decade has been in two 'Die Hard' films as a kid and a cop, kills it. Going hard as the underrated Mc Ren who licks more lasting lyrics that lace the law with the delight of rappers justice in revenge. A dish best served hot off the turntables with some ice cold Cube lines. Mixing this all together perfectly is DJ Yella played with punctuation by 'Fast and Furious' and 'Battle: Los Angeles' actor Neil Brown Jnr. There's all sorts of character cameos here too in this epic biopic of a genre of music including people playing everyone from Warren G to Chuck D and even unbelievable lookalikes of Interscope's Jimmy Iovine and Tupac Shakur that makes it look like the hologram is back. Just wait until they give the greatest most influential and inspiring rappers of all-time his own movie...Anthony Mackie has played him enough times on stage and screen now to get a full feature and the Falcon is a soaring actor. The fat cat label owner Suge Knight is here also in close cigar form with a tote that smokes out just how ridiculous and villainous he really was. Even definitive director F. Gary Gray of 'Law Abiding Citizen' and 'The Negotiator', not to mention 'Friday' fame even Stan Lee's himself into a scene. Yet its 'Dope' and 'Selma' star Keith Stanfield who is the best of the rapping rest with bark for bow wow perfect bite as a young Snoop Dogg from the hood before he went Hollywood. Still platinum character actor Paul Giamatti almost steals the show he runs with behind the scenes corruption with yet another plaque for his deep and diverse, formidable filmographys wall of fame. It's the dollar over sense, music company people are shady, rule number four thousand and eighty that we should all check, that is is one of the main overarching themes in the original death of a hip-hop dynasty. This being a million miles and dollars away from the turbulent time and tide of L.A. in the late 80's and early 90's that gave way to much more at stake than beef. With the battle between the bloods and crips and all the other gangs including the boys in blue who where colorblind when it came to black rights. Doing what artists like Nina Simone and Miles Davis did before them but with more of an elaborate middle finger, the musicians of N.W.A. who most of this millennial generation have grown up with can once again be spokesman to a new generation in desperate need of a voice that's saying something in the mainstream view of the MTV world today...even if it is all just music. Just wait until all the 'Straight Outta' hash-tag Instagram post crowd will buy the title album tomorrow and claim they've been a fan since before they were born. This is something more and you don't need to see the success of executive producers Ice Cube's movies or Dr. Dre's headphones to hear all about it. One poignant moment where Cube and Eazy look back over a drink with groups like Wu Tang playing in the background plays is all out to a fine point. Even without being the voice of a generation lost in the drowning out sounds of violence. Even without being the pride of young men who can stand up for themselves in the face of a clenched fist...or worse. Without N.W.A. there's be no Snoop Dogg, Eminem or Kendrick Lamar and who knows who else? Now what does that tell you about still music's newest genre? Even if you're not a fan of rap music there's a strong enough story here of the rise and fall of success and loyalty that we can all relate to. You're straight out of excuses to not see why N.W.A made it out from the C.P.T. And even if you have one guess what? They still don't give a f###! TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Friday, 21 August 2015
Inside Amy Schumer.
124 Minutes. Starring: Amy Schumer, Bill Hader, Brie Larson, Tilda Swinton, John Cena, Amar'e Stoudemire & LeBron James. Director: Judd Apatow.
Get on board with Amy Schumer! Because right now the new queen of comedy is coming in like a wrecking ball. And now the woman who once joked that she'd finally made it with her high-school crush...but now has to go to prom with him, is putting her love life on screen for the romantic comedy of the year. Trust me, you're going to want to be part of this 'Trainwreck'. She's the bride now leaving everyone else, even Melissa McCarthy 'Bridesmaids'. Amy is amazing and alongside the directing king of Judd Apatow and the underrated prince of jokes as live as Saturday Night in Bill Hader, what more could you ask for in this game of thrones, where heads roll with laughter? Then how about King James himself? Because Cleveland Cavalier megastar LeBron James is here too and the best player in the NBA is also showing he's the best athlete actor, dry-erasing his 'Space Jam' audition with the silver linings of this playbook. The athletic dunker takes it to the future DVD favourite rack here, stealing the show from an All-Star cast that includes Brie Larson, an inspired intervention of classic comedy and even fellow NBA great with a perfect personality for comedy, Amar'e Stoudemire, with a New York Knee injury subplot a little close to the bone for the now star of LeBron James' former Miami Heat team. Still, if you prefer your talents residing in South Beach and your using your heat to burn number 23 jerseys we have some other directing decisions for you. Like tipping your caps to Mark Wah...ah hem, we mean John Cena who hilariously wrestles the spotlight from any superstar with his light hearted look of being the macho man. Yet its the completely unrecognizable Tilda Swinton who masks the funniest and best performance as a bitch of a Devil 'Writes' Prada' boss. As the porcelain pretty actress of usual dialogue depth slaps on the war-paint make-up and caricature cockney accent, sending up literally everything and everyone including herself. This is what its all about, not taking yourself too seriously. And with this in mind, nobody does it better than the amiable Amy who by doing all of this shows she's a runaway talent. No train-wreck. No joke! Don't miss this train, because she's not stopping for anyone! TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Wednesday, 19 August 2015
8 Episodes. Starring: Colin Farrell, Rachel McAdams, Taylor Kitsch & Vince Vaughn.
Darkness in greying greens and bleak browns is illuminated for a split, split second by fire. Flicking his cigarette to life and death, Colin Farrell buries the metal lighter in his beat up tweed, offset by the stain of nicotine suit jacket and takes one hell of a 'I've had a long day' drag. Sucking the air from his cheeks and the wind right out his lungs. Exhaling, taking the cancer stick out of his mouth, looking at it longingly he savours the moment. A fleeting seconds respite of peace in all this brimstone. What else is he going to do? Vape off an E-Cig? Nope, that is like, "sucking a robots d###", obviously...we all know what that's like don't we 'Ex Machina' digital generation? Flicking its ash into its tray besides a basket of dinner so lacking in nourishment and health the cigarette may as well of gone there, he stares at an empty glass that's more than a metaphor, before he fills it up with another shot which unfortunately in this moment is not another life comparison cliché. He looks across the bar in fear of a female singer (a lamenting Lera Lynn, the real life sensational singer that helps the score of this soundscape soundtrack soar) her stage a barstool. Looking strung out on some substance or the strings of the guitar gently weeping the junkies life of what could have been. "This is my least favourite life" she cries, albeit in a beautifully dull ache. She may as well be singing directly to him...and not just because he harmonizes with every lyric. But because he's the only one in this chairs on table bar, save the man across from him. Joining him like he was a friend, but working him harder than the time his day has given him. Who does this comedian think he is? Some sort of mobster? And what about our guy, taking that brown envelope from this guy for his next pay day, with no tax and stuffing it in his jacket as he brushes past what feels like a badge? Good cop? Bad? Who is this guy? In this world that we deserve maybe the closest thing to a 'True Detective'.
Too much? Too clichéd? Well this is season two in all its beauty and beats. All its honour and corruption. This is not McConaughey or Woody. In fact its a whole new jurisdiction. Although the original partners in this bloody-cop series return as executive producers in a show that doubles up before you even had chance to rewatch the first season from early last year. One that became an instant classic that everyone loved with fierce passion and loyalty like it was the new 'Breaking Bad' down the wire. But this is a whole new story completely, break or bad. With only some car confessionals and across the table opening homage to keeps this by the book of its weird but wonderful writer Nic Pizzolatto. To go with, of course the cinematic feeling, high-def, high-filmed highways and landscapes that twist and snake in the distance like the perfect picturesque portrayal of plot. Lead in by some iconic title sequences remixed by Cohen couplets. And now this round of drinks (even if given the "same again" treatment over the series until we've all had enough) serves as one hell of an artistic scene that even the classic first season couldn't canvas or compass like the final, beach beauty breach, world spun around, fade out finale of the first episode directed by 'Fast and Furious' franchise fuel Justin Lin. And you thought the Linsanity's only trademark touch would be giving Farrell's cool Velcoro detective a cop car that could even out muscle Vin Diesel's power on the road? Here's a runaway scene so classic you can forgive all the collateral confusion and damage some of this drawn out investigation at only the latest 8 episodes of wonder finds us with. Your teeth feel pulled? Well now you know what its like to cop some real police work. File this next to the drawn out classic tone of a 'Zodiac' killer movie. More epic evidence comes with some crippling cliffhangers that will work your next week down to the nails, let alone your nerve (although in this 'Daredevil' dominating Netflix age this show would have hindsight worked better binged instead of the momentum it loses, week by waiting week. As apposed to the cliffhanger craving nature of a series like a 'Wayward Pines' ). To go along with a one-shot, season one rivalling escape from a whore house scarier than a hood one and a sensational city-street shootout of classic 'Heat' like proportions. Let alone one of the best things this entire 'True Detective' name has ever done. And lets not forget the strangest and cheapest Conway Twitty cut-away since 'Family Guy' for a defining dream sequence that still sublime...hey at least Lera Lynn gets a break. All this and so much more leading to the fire of a finale stretched over two extended episodes until all strings in your heart break under the gun to temple pressure of all the stakes, twists and heat. In these wrenching moments where like a book this series will show you its all about the complete story and not just the chapters that are judged like a cover, this show shows you it has a soul. Even if it is the darkest one. But which 'True Detective' has True Grit?
Grind this one out and you'll see that the best thing about a show that is so much better than all the critics have slated is Colin Farrell. The closest thing to a worn out cop on this side of the law than Pacino in his prime. As a matter of fact, armed with a badge, gun, slicked back, long hair and a massive, maverick moustache so magnificent you don't want to see Movember, this is Colin's 'Miami Vice' cop decades later and darker, but with no Foxx to get him out this hole. This time struggling with a drug depression that's numbing the substance out of his life as he tries to protect the pain of losing a son that may not even be his paternity, whilst trying to solve a case which is even bleaker and grey than the black and white print of a test he just doesn't want to take. The formidable Farrell plays this out perfectly, sober and intoxicated here . And from the off the rails binges to the just raw, straight emotion with no chaser one of the best and most underrated actor goes beyond the cliches of playing a part that he has some real life experience with. This is more than just a former addict acting out a relapse, this is a real talent showing the truest testament to a character...understanding. And all ours comes with that too. All to a character we even love from the start and don't want to lose despite his basement of hell dwelling flaws...and boy there's a devil of detailed rooms with views here. As real as this gets rom-com queen Rachel McAdams adds more amazing acting to her detectives notebook. As one of Hollywood's leading ladies of acting and attraction makes herself up in nothing but knives and lint and shows us a real heroine without the sexualised side that Hollywood has been itching for. About time! Yet her terrific transition isn't the only small-screen swipe switch. Former 'John Carter' and X-Men Gambit, Taylor Kitsch may be playing his best hand after all he's been dealt here on this highway to motorcycle hell after his warm and heartbreaking 'Lone Survivor' fight, but we're talking about the former king of comedy here. And as Vince Vaughn plays it straight and sinister we have the makings of a velvet smooth, suited and booted villain. Although a more vile, Vegas like hot hand steak for this casino tycoon character would have made this hand this shows ace in the hole we all hoped he would be. Although Vaughn is no snake eyes, despite being more Atlantic City than Sin City, the improv king would have taken the house if he had coloured outside the lines instead of playing it all paint by numbers gangster. His boiling point, breakout at the end would have bubbled even more if he was set on a more subtle simmer than the symbolism, that like the chasing of a ghost called Caspere was a little too on the nose to save face. Still we hope this seriousness leads to a similar streak for an 'Old School' actor who started his career with 'The Lost World' and is now far from extinct. Rounding out the rest of a complex cast that even has a Springfield that doesn't have to wish for Jessie's girl, are 'Sherlock Holmes' (reuniting with Rachel) and 'Flight's' flame hot Kelly Reilly on Christina Hendricks fire amongst all these mad men, in Michelle Monaghan mode and for the first time ever a cop show that features David Morse dressed in a long-haired hippy hue instead of the boys in blue. Weird huh? Well this is 'True Detective'. A show of crows and confusion that plants more seeds than it pecks away at. Want more than these crumbs? Perhaps its time for a trilogy? A new story and season will be welcome to some who will be even more eager for the next thin red line of true detectives. But just like Harrelson and McConaughey, you'll still have these real cops going round your head like a flat circle. Because after all, even if the light is winning, darkness always touches you back. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Friday, 14 August 2015
The Man From S.T.E.E.L.
116 Minutes. Starring: Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander, Elizabeth Debicki, Jared Harris & Hugh Grant. Director: Guy Ritchie.
From Mother Russia with the love of her brother, this Guy's still got it. After running detection and unraveling mystery with Mr. Holmes, the British intelligence of director Guy Ritchie is back with a sleuth load of spy movies coming out this year. And in adapting another classic undercover T.V. show from the swinging sixties, this one could even give the 'Rogue Nation' of the Tom Cruise fuse charged 'Mission Impossible' a run for its currency. No matter the country it gets exchanged to at a rate of exotic locations that could even out-stamp the passport of Bond. And with 007 on the mind and the 'Spectre' of 'Skyfall's' rear-view sequel on the horizon, 'The Man From U.N.C.L.E.' takes aim in making its lead agent case early. Slick suited and boldly booted like a GQ magazine party stepped out of an amazing array of old but timeless automobiles. Rolling out in a red carpet year that's seen so many secret agent films (see Colin Firth in the formidable 'Kingsman-The Secret Service', or even Melissa McCarthy in the silly but super 'Spy' spoof) emerge from the shadows of a summer shaded by the big budget blockbusters and the city drowning monsters and machines that try to rule it. Now you just know another spy film has to go hard, especially with the official end of the blockbuster season in the reign of the old 'Jurassic World' and 'Terminator' franchise reboots to go with the massive Marvel machine that has now lost some heat thanks to the not so 'Fantastic Four', even with a flame on hot cast lead by a re-ignited Human Torch. So with all this before and all the 'Star Wars' to come later that will lead to an awakening force of all sorts of superheroes squaring off with each other in a 'Dawn Of Justice' and 'Civil War' of 2016, we need something to hold us over and shake and stir us like a classic Martini. With the fall approaching its time to ditch the spandex for a suit and switch capes for ties. It's time for the Guy that took the 'Iron Man' of Robert Downey Jnr and put him under the magnify glass as just as great a 'Sherlock Holmes' to return with avengance with another superhero and he's going to need one hell of a Superman to do it!
No longer rocking out like Buddy Holly, whilst stepping into the booth and straightening the tie, Clark Kent is ditching those glasses again. Now although this buddy spy movie is no solo picture, our lead Henry Cavill is dynamite as Napoleon and you don't need a copy of the Daily Planet to read all about that. Tailor made for this the 'Man Of Steel' is magnificent as 'The Man From U.N.C.L.E.' Armed with a silencer, but supressing none of the confidence and charm that sees him defeating every bad guy and winning over all the ladies, Henry gives himself a license to Bond with 007. Yet with classic Hollywood looks chiseled to his Mount Rushmore chin of confidence, this throwback, leading man is UNCLE to all other nephews and leaves the original Solo of televisions answer to Cary Grant, Robert Vaughn proud. Originally it was meant to be Clooney, or Cruise to play the legendary Napoleon, but now the cavalier Cavill accepts this mission after a file of actors marked 'Hollywood' where almost recruited. Here another Brit plays a yank for Ritchie like a backwards Sherlock or Madonna. What more do you expect when a Englishman in New York attire is being called a cowboy by an American 'Lone Ranger' playing a Russian. Yep, that's Armie Hammer in this partner, buddy-spy roulette, as the other Man From the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement. Armed with the arm and hammer of a man built like an iron curtain in this Cold War era classic caper of a scorching battle of thrills and Sixties spills. Think Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp's underrated 'Tourist' escapade, but with a better journey than something that just looks like another sweet smelling but glass atomizer transparent perfume commercial. This swaggers with as much style as all the Oceans of Clooney films now, with Cavill taking it higher than 11. Riding as Solo, shotgun with a Hammer double act from the guy who terrifically played twins all by himself in 'The Social Network' before the Krays, cray-craze by 'Legend' Tom Hardy. With an awesome accented performance the man that held his own alongside the great Leonardo DiCaprio in the Clint Eastwood 'J. Edgar' biopic, muscles up alongside the one-liners of Cavill (think like the super Michael Fassbender's Magneto walking into other peoples scenes and situations with some 'First Class' quips) perfectly, more than just a compliment. Lets hope this one doesn't join his previously mentioned underrated films, because here alongside the Man of Steel-who shows beneath that veneer and demeanor there's charisma-the pair bring all the houses down. Just like they bring a whole row of cubicles to the stall floor before one bystander gets a chance to shake it off. Flushing everything else down the toilet this is the dogs, leaving all else to exactly that.
But what are two leading men without some femme fatales? We have some fatal females of the species here who are killer good. Just like Elizabeth Debicki who switches style from the Jazz-Age of 'The Great Gatsby' to some sexy Sixties sultriness. Or this years 'Ex Machina' breakout star Alicia Vikander who goes beyond the amazing android acting to show she too can dance like co-star Oscar Issac and cut an acting rug too. The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. adds one of this years most entertaining films to one of 2015's independent best. This actress of the future joins a cast of stars whose time on the silver screen is now, but there's timeless legends here too. To show these old spies aren't just about new tricks trying to keep up with the new age gadgets of Q's and Simon Pegg's with some copper and wire. Ritchie reunites with Sherlock's greatest adversary Moriarty in Jared Harris for more 'Games Of Shadows', but as great as Harris is, it's British national treasure Hugh Grant who almost steals the show without even having to steal someone's girlfriend with that old nervous, stuttering spiel. The classic Schick that made it feel like you where sitting through 'Four Weddings and a Funeral' is gone, as are the need for many more burials in a vintage feeling film that doesn't go ultra violent for the mass market in this brutal age of entertainment. Even a guy like Ritchie who snatched up some of the grittiest gangster epics replaces the grime with a sublime cut across the chest all the way down to the cufflinks that are fastened together with the classiest cool. From the sweetest sounding silencer that leads to a slick soundtrack that's full of Nina Simone and Burgundy jazz-flute, to the muzzle put on the bullets and blood-lust for some still affirmative action that entertains instead of pains. Even if some of the stunning set-pieces need a little spit and polish to keep them suited but not booted from the big screen showcase. But the again that would cramp the style of the best looking film of the year from the old 60's T.V. show screen slides and expositional typography that can do more for this film in three minutes that some other franchises take trilogies to do. And you best believe we have a new series now and no solo. Now hows that for entertainment? Will the likes of Bourne and Bond accept this? Mission Impossible? No...mission accomplished! Bobs your uncle! TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Thursday, 6 August 2015
100 Minutes. Starring: Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell, Michael B. Jordan, Tony Kebbell & Reg W. Cathay. Director: Josh Trank.
Stretch the rights of Sony and Fox all you like in this reboot age, but one day the Marvel adaptations of some of the worlds favourite comic-book characters will return to the cinematic universe they rightfully belong to. Assembling for one hell of an Avenger, Guardians and X-Men team up like Batman v Superman in the 'Dawn Of Justice' next year. Then this battle for the comic-book world will be even more epic than a highly anticipated 'Civil War'. Marvel just keep getting bigger and better this year in their 'Age Of Ultron'. From their small screen dominance with the narrative of the Netflix dynamite 'Daredevil' show, to the big screen one, albeit with an even smaller hero in the form of Marvel's second biggest insect 'Ant-Man'. Making for the best blockbuster of this year in one of 'Mad Max' and 'Fast & Furious' road warriors and 'Jurassic World' and 'Terminator' machine made monsters. Still now in what seemed like a shade of a season under the sun, the barbecue is over for the movie Summer blockbusters and after another red hot one, the Human Torch and his 'Fantastic Four' hope to keep it alight before the storm of the coming winter and a 'Star Wars' fall. The thing is, tailing the 'Rogue Nation' of the latest annual Tom Cruise blockbuster it seems like Mission: Impossible for yet another superhero movie as the critics are choosing not to accept a see-through woman, a guy that suffers from spontaneous human combustion and a pile of rocks and rubble lead by a Stretch Armstrong doll. Even after falling for the tall tale of Marvel's astonishing and smallest soldier in spandex.
Going fourth with Marvel's first family and original superhero team, this may not be so fantastic for Mr. Fox, but its far from drastic, or even a 'Fantastic Bore' that some critics are calling it, like some press has been hiring D.C. writers or something. Sure the film feels more like the movie equivalent of fan-fiction than more official output. I mean here's the first Marvel-ish movie in recent times to have no hint of one of the franchises biggest draws in a cameo from its creator Stan Lee (WHAT?!), which even the Disney animation of 'Big Hero 6' had, or an after credits wait around (NO!), let alone two (OH COME ON!). This more tribute type piece isn't even true to the stand alone testament of something like say the longest-running franchisee of franchises in the form of the X-Men sequel mutations, which was even the biggest thing going before the out of this world (and galaxy) cinematic dominance by the avenging Marvel. Although we would love to see that rumoured X and F4 crossover collaboration of cinematic history that could even happen before the Avengers go out of this world to assemble with those freaking 'Guardians Of The Galaxy' to finally take Thanos off his throne. On the other hand however this could be the 'Amazing Spider-Man' like ultimatum (for the record that series and its Andrew Garfield star was so much better than the Maguire trilogy and what everybody thought. Now just all a waste of talent like the Green Goblin Dane DeHaan's 'Sinister Six' villain movie that was an idea that came before D.C.'s 'Suicide Squad') that sees studios deal to bring another origin story back to its original home, even though we don't need to see Uncle Ben die again, more times than Bruce Wayne's parents. Another reboot here would at least give us the opportunity to see a Hulk busting fight with The Thing on the big-screen but lets give this one a chance first. After the first two 'Fantastic Four' films of the corny, but entertaining superhero time of the early 2000's gave us Jessica Alba and eventually Captain America, by way of Chris Evans' hot Human Torch. This one looks to darken the mood like the beginnings of a Batman story after the Silver Surfers rise failed to catch waves. This shadowy saga doesn't look to catch many rays either, even with one character made of flames and another looking like some sort of crap left out in the sun. Still all the number two talk aside this is no turd.
As a matter of fact it almost is the s***! Mixing some amazing action with vivid visuals that keep the clunky cliches and dumb dialogue at bay. A strange film to compare it to is a previous years big Summer movie in 'The Great Gatsby' (no this isn't jazz age, but we're comparing it to a movie that after all did star 'Spider-Man' Tobey Maguire however). One that's in your face, crass cinematography couldn't distract you from a dull and suspect story. That was until Leonardo DiCaprio put the second half of the film on his back and made that part great, balancing out the scales for a pretty good movie in the end. That's kind of how this works here, albeit the origins of the backstory beginning make up for a luster lacking end that seems it was budget bluster or idea inspired cut short. Some of the ways our humans made heroes get their powers are as deeply thought out as they are that unsettling for some unique and undeniable moments. It's all perfectly set up for a film you're set to roll with 'till the wheels fall off only for the engine to fall out in the middle. Resulting in a films finale that would have been perfect for a middle set-piece to set-up for a Battle Royale, stronger finish instead of leading to a 404 of an ending. Give this bare bones hero becoming story by the career chronicles of more down to earth superheroes Josh Trank the ending it earns, like the New York, New York big-city, big-budget extravagance that this formidable family deserve and you then have a fantastic, four star movie. Instead of some Garden State outskirts, unspecified military location weaponisation. Which is good for the first hour at least, but this great cast deserves more. Just like 'Whiplash' poster boy Miles Teller who you can tell is going the extra kilometers here. Drumming up a more human Reed Richards, whilst whipping those stretchy arms and legs into stunning C.G. shape for formidable, forest fighting that doesn't look silly, or too fake...even using his rubber face to join the Ethan Hunt school of distinct disguises. Add his love interest of Kate Mara to bring more brains to the beauty of Susan Storm and this Invisible Woman that once issued Tony Stark with a subpoena in 'Iron Man 2' is not hiding anymore. Just like 'Billy Elliott' ballet boy turned bully muscle, Jamie Bell whose rock hard Thing character is anything but grim. But I feel like we need Bradley Cooper's 'Hangover' character to tell him to put some pants on, because I feel weird asking twice. As a matter of fact come to think of it, where's The Thing's...erm "thing"?! He looks the part too just like Trank's returning 'Chronicle' hero Michael B. Jordan (who like his namesake is about to become the next great sports hero as Apollo's son in the Rocky spin-off 'Creed'), who really flies as he flames on after Cap Chris Evans passed him the torch. Incinerating those racists who said he couldn't play Sue's sibling whilst burning up the charismatic cockiness that makes this Johnny Storm, John Blaze. Igniting and uniting this family fathered by the formidable 'House Of Cards' star Reg W. Cathay (who is the grand gravitas of this picture with a beautiful baritone that could even best Morgan Freeman, I mean this guy paves gravel paths with every serious syllable), to the point where he should incendiary ink their logo in the sky. Even Tony Kebbell's incarnation of the iconic Doom character survives a Silver Surfer on steroids look that is in desperate need of a mask with that cloak to show in one walk of the corridor just how brutal, but brilliant a villain he is. Marvel need more of this madness, especially in its 'Daredevil', Punisher (who could learn something from a movie cast he seemingly killed in a yesteryear Marvel comic) season of no lives or bullets spared. I mean imagine if Ultron was this annihilating? Or Thanos...here's hoping. All in all this assemble has the makings of something Fantastic, but in four minutes more than your average rom-com it falls short. Still lets not outstretch our arms to throw rocks at this Thing. The fire isn't out for these kids that many think need to disappear. Right now it's not clobbering time...yet! TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Sunday, 2 August 2015
The Place Beyond The Pines.
10 Episodes. Starring: Starring, Matt Dillon, Carla Gugino, Toby Jones, Shannyn Sossamon. Reed Diamond, Tim Griffin, Charlie Tahan, Juliette Lewis. Melissa Leo & Terrence Howard. Director & Executive Producer: M. Night Shyamalan.
Welcome to 'Wayward Pines'! Population: Paranoia! If you like small towns then my friend this is the place for you. But just be careful of how you walk down the street at night with the way everybody turns to look and point as not only do they know you're name...but all your business too. Because like every small town everybody knows everybody. Now are you sitting comfortably? No...good, that's the way they want it, even if they want you to settle here. There's plenty of great homes always available here for new families and friends...and as for that career crippling mortgage, don't worry you're all covered. What's the catch you ask? Well there's a curfew, you're bugged unless you play some music louder than you're adolescent oldest. You always have to answer your phone and if you're thinking about that vacation you've been saving for all year forget about it! Feel at home yet?! Tough! There's nothing you can do about it. And if you try, you and the rest of the town that endeavours to do the same are in for one hell of a reckoning. You don't know how you got here and you sure as hell can't figure a way out. You can't leave! This is 'Wayward Pines'! Where else are you going to go? Just try getting past the old, classic welcome sign. Good luck! Reach the city limits and you'll see why there's more chance of leaving Las Vegas with gambling debts than this place! This isn't L.A. and you aren't Kurt Russell. You're former Hollywood heart-throb and movie millionaire Matt Dillon and you don't even have enough to pay the toll to cross the bridge back. You've woke up in hospital after one mother of a fender bender that ran you off the road you where on. It's all upside down and you think you're a million miles from home but you don't know the half of it! This is home now, like it or not! You'll try to reason, but they'll reckon. You'll try to run, but they know exactly where you hide and now reside. They'll tell you its all for your own good too, until like every other sheep that has flocked here you bleat the same. You don't even want to know what's on the other side if you make it out of here they say. Welcome to 'Wayward Pines'...yeah right!
Weird right? Well this 'Village' does reside in the maddening mind of 'Sixth Sense' and 'Unbreakable' director M. Night Shyamalan. The man whose weird and wonderful style is escaping from the controversial confines of 'The Happening' and 'After Earth' to some new classic, hitting hard claustrophobia of home comforts. The man who reinvented the plot twist and rebirthed it as every modern day visual stories ace in the hole calling card, gives us some fingers in the arm-chair gripping, cliff-hangers that will make you fingers-crossed, candles blown out, pennies in the well wish you could binge watch the show in one go each week! Even in this Netflix digital age, bringing the serial joys of waiting a whole seven days to find out what happens to last weeks before credits shock. Bucking the spoiler saturated trend of instant gratification, each show will leave you praying and screaming that the T.V. doesn't frustratingly fade to black. Only for your everlasting eagerness to anticipate the arrival of next weeks opening title sequence and its inventive scale model of this terrifying town planning. Leaving you each week with questions like; 'why don't they just drive right out of there'? 'Who or what is Abbie'? 'Why can't season 2 of 'True Detective' be this good'? Well Fox's new hit show 'Wayward Pines' that could match all of the Marvel 'Daredevils' and 'Agents' that are trying to make their 'Breaking Bad' and 'Walking Dead' mark in the T.V. world is about to answer all of that and raise new questions in 'Twin Peaks' fashion for a town darker than D.C.'s new 'Gotham'. Sure this solitary town may not meet the peaks of the twins but it is one outstanding Sci-Fi fantasy mystery that even Mulder and Scully couldn't solve.
So its up to Dillon, our lead detective and actor of this piece to puzzle all the parts of a town even more sinister than some of his most famous roles together. More unsettled down his new street than when Owen Wilson's 'Dupree' came to visit, this is the best Dillon has been in years, moving from the silver screen to the small one. His worn young Hollywood heartthrob looks and his gravelly voice grinding through all this grit with grounding gravitas. Shaking hands with Sheriff Terrence Howard (who can even make eating an ice cream look ice cold) there is a very different first introduced since the last time these two met on screen (see the police pull-over, licence and registration, without a 'please' of 'Crash') although you can bet it's just as conflicting. Howard-back from what looked like the end-is just as intensely inspired, although dramatically different then he is in the fellow Fox show 'Empire' that as its lead has lead it to be on the top of T.V's own game of thrones. Heads will roll in some television that's not afraid to do whatever it wants like its towns subject in this O.T.T. 'G.O.T.' shock value syndicate. There's even more famous faces here like the woman that's in every movie, Melissa Leo. An Oscar winner who has been character acting the s*** out of everything she's been in. Here nursing a 'Shutter Island' spookily sinister medicine woman with one hell of a under the skin bedside manner. There's even some licks from songstress/actress Juliette Lewis who is always a starlet standout in whatever scene she's set to steal. Add the wayward wonder of 'Sin City' and 'San Andreas'' Carla Gugino with the series anything but regular talent of the sublime Shannyn Sossamon, the real and recognisable Reed Diamond and the next Dane DeHaan; Charlie Tahan then we really are invested in a lot. All the way down to the short but imposing 'Captain America' villain Toby Jones who has a unique, compelling look of being a character that doesn't even need a body to bag real anti-hero characterization. He's the crux of the catalyst of the climax of this cinematic show. In fact all the players make this teamwork of acting and writing really produce a winning Shyamalan story that really works. All the way down to a thrilling climax and whatever you think will be the last twist in a one off unique story that we want to shout about but just can't spoil. And based on Blake Crouch's page turning book, this week turner may even have a second season in the works. Now that's truly scary for this Thursday evening fright night. And you thought you'd found all the skeletons in the closets of all the homes in 'Wayward'. Through all this darkness there's still clearly more beyond these pines! To be continued? TIM DAVID HARVEY.