Sunday, 20 December 2015

REVIEW: A VERY MURRAY CHRISTMAS

4/5

Scrooged In Translation.

56 Minutes. Starring: Bill Murray, Paul Shaffer, Chris Rock, Miley Cyrus, Michael Cera, David Johansen, Rashida Jones, Jason Schwartzman, Jenny Lewis, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph & George Clooney. Director: Sofia Coppola.

Let it Bill, let it Bill, let it Bill! There is no one in Hollywood quite like the maverick Murray and this yuletide season wont feel like a 'Groundhog Day' of not kick starting your Christmas shopping or struggling to get into the spirit thanks to Bill's jingles for your bells. Now the legend that made movies like 'Scrooged' and 'Lost In Translation' classics mixes the two for a perfect Christmas cocktail for those feeling lonesome at the bar and in need of spirit this December 25th. Streaming Netflix with a variety Christmas special, directed by 'Godfather Part III' actress Sofia Coppola, who brought the love and loneliness out of Tokyo and Murray back when this icon was even big in Japan, even the most popular cult celebrity in the world has the 'Christmas Blues' and he's singing it all poignantly and perfectly beautifully. Aching, but a long way away from dull, this is a soulful mediation to all we have love and lost in this time that brings everyone together no matter how far apart. This musical comedy film brings an epic ensemble of A listers from cinemas and concerts for quite the gig. But at the end of your advent calender's eve it's still a Murray Christmas guaranteed to give you the happiest of New Years. So join us and have yourself a Murray and merry one.

Baby it's cold outside, but you really must stay for this fairytale in New York as Murray makes it warmer than relaxing, 'Santori' times whiskey this Winterime in the snowed in classic Carlyle Hotel in NYC. Somber tones may run throughout this fictional show that Bill is trying to put on in the Big Apple, but just like the Oscar winning 'Birdman' there is unexpected virtue here in the form of hopeful inspiration not ignorance or woe. Sleet may sheet the window of this isolated leading mans loneliness but the woodgrain polished look of the Bemelmans bar and it's roaring fireplace inside takes your coat and holds your hands that are just like ice. This mini-film is funny, forthright, dramatic and damn delightful...oh and between all that acting there's some singing too. But you best believe this musical is big numbers to your ears. As Murray moves Christmas classic after Christmas classic to his pace, much like the atmospheric and magic, smoky and smoldering 'A Very She And Him Christmas' album. As a matter of fact the only thing this old boy is missing is 'New Girl' Zooey Deschanel. Although 'She's Not Me' of last years 'The Voyager' fame singer Jenny Lewis is on hand as a wonderful waitress for when there are no cabs to be had out there next to French group Phoenix. And how about legendary Letterman sidekick and musical director Paul Shaffer who brings the biggest and best out of backing everyone, especially the jingle 'Wrecking Ball' of Miley Cyrus atop his snow white piano? Inspiring in interpreting 'Silent Night' into her own holy beauty you forgot she was this crazy good when she sings classically...just like Gaga 'Cheek To Cheek' with Tony Bennett this lady.

No wonder the 'Party In The U.S.A.' singer that can't be tamed whether it's a Hannah Montana special or a Christmas one like 'The Night Before' is up in the arms of a tux, Rat Pack double act of Murray and Clooney. And by George does this guy and Bill make for one Sinatra and Dino pairing preparing the Christmas drinks. To be frank Clooney hasn't looked this great and relaxed in years. Looking like his old Cary Grant self, did you forget how funny this practical joker was backing up the worlds most hilariously offbeat actor (he and Bill even take the mick out of their unfairly underrated 'Monuments Men' movie thanks to a hilarious exchange with on-screen geek turned douche Michael Cera) and dancing with a plastic Douglas Fir for your new fondest, seasons greetings memory banks? Still even with one the biggest Hollywood names on the planet on the Bill, Bill still gets by with a little help from his famous friends. From Quincy's daughter Rashida Jones to Tina Fey's 'Sister' Amy Poehler. Or one of Wes Anderson's favorites Jason Schwartzman or another of Bill's old friends, New York Doll and Ghost Of Christmas past 'Scrooged' star David Johansen. But what's Christmas without Rudolph as 'Bridesmaid' Maya shows just how great she can sing as well makes us all shout with red nose and faced laughter? All these stars yet the best duet bar the fondly funny 'Do You Hear What I Hear' one with 'Top Five' king of comedy Chris Rock is the reuniting one with Francis Ford's daughter herself. Coppola and Murray need to make something like this a timely tradition, because this slow burner, more than a decade in the Scarlet karaoke nights (where's 'Her' in all this guys? 'Lucy' can sing!) of the Far East removed is like chestnuts to the open fire. And here with a love song to the letter homage to the big name, Saturday night, bright light, live shows of the big city of New York, variety here is the cinnamon spice of this festive life. To you all watching and listening and streaming a very Murray Christmas. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Friday, 18 December 2015

REVIEW: STAR WARS-THE FORCE AWAKENS

4/5

Guardians Of A Galaxy Far, Far Away.

135 Minutes. Starring: Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong'o, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew & Max von Sydow. Director: J.J. Abrams.

The Force is strong with this one. Mark Hamill still has it. Carrie Fisher still has it. Harrison Ford still has it. J.J. Abrams has that power too! Boldly going from the 'Star Trek' franchise he helped bring back to whole new lives and civilizations and out of the darkness of a lost trilogy, he becomes the director this 'Star Wars' franchise was looking for now the legendary George Lucas has passed the hilt his way in an iconic screen swipe transition that is still kept true in this picture. It's finally here. The movie event of the year, decade, millennium and lifetime. And oh how this Empire is striking back with the return of this Jedi. Hope is made anew by J.J. who attacks the clones, with the revenge of the Sith like a Phantom Menace possessed. Forget all the Marvel, 'Terminator' machines, 'Jurassic World' monsters and even the icon James Bond himself, this is the sequel in its own galaxy leaving everything else...well you know the rest. This even goes to space battle with Matt Damon's 'Martian' all the way in Mars. The original trilogy was more than just a classic, or greatest ever big three next to 'The Godfather', 'Lord Of The Rings' and 'The Dark Knight' trifectas. It was a way of life for so many generations, light or dark side. Geek or street. The second trilogy was massive, mesmerizing and nostalgic...albeit messy. But does Episode VII bring new hope and that magic back as 'The Force Awakens'? Well as soon as you hear the space opera of that classic John Williams theme and see that iconic font across the stars you have your answer beaming across space and your face. Abrams has gone and pulled it off at light speed. After showing he could take Gene Roddenberry's concept of treking across the stars through its final frontier, he goes beyond that in Lucasfilm's galaxy as he continues his mission. Switching speeds and the Starship Enterprise for the Millennium Falcon as he becomes the new guardian of any galaxy. Take a back seat Star Lord. By George I think he's got it!

Just let the opening scene do the talking for you like the new rogue actor who pilots it and almost steals the show of this whole thing. But we all know that the biggest star and name here is 'Star Wars' itself and Abrams know this. This isn't about 'Star Trek' or even he. This is about the memories of so many children now grown up and more to come and be made. And in an all too dark themed Hollywood this film that goes to war with the light and dark side, between the First Order and the Resistance has some all too modern day, real themes to teach everyone too beyond this futuristic, Western fantasy. Delivered by a multi-racial, all world cast who beat the b.s. boycott to show any notion of negativity is out of this small world. Now hows that for another great turn of direction? There's so much more from the awakening force and 'Lost' director who has really found his calling. We already knew from his last franchise turnaround that this man could bring the sense of adventure to action in a Hollywood hail of bullets that needed more fun to its fantasy epics and here he does it again with a much grander, more sensational sense of scale that Falcon flies above any height. There's no ceilings in space. Even a 'Captain America-Civil War' trailer before hand cant amass this much character and fan boys and girls for Marvel's new Disney neighbors. We've got aerial assaults of fighters, wings and lasers that bring more fireworks to the sky than New York on New Year. To go with formidable and scintillating, snow forest, light saber battling sword fights among the best you've ever seen. Darth Maul or Vader himself. Legendary and legacy making, some one call the National Trust because there's some major deforestation going on here. This one could melt the ice caps. And you can rejoice in the fact that there's no Jar Jar, or J.J. lens flare overkill. When that does flare up however it shines...beautifully. Just like the instantly iconic shots of ships in the sunset like 'Apocalypse Now' (hey young Han) or across the water to new depth in the most visual Star Wars film yet. Epic, this is!

Good, bad, light, dark and family is what these movies really orbit around however. So you know the concept of character is central here and oh does this have it and then some with all your favorites back and that's no trap. The trilogy of stars from the first three film are back and what was 'Star Wars' without them? Time to find out why Mark Hamill was on a milk carton in the trailer and if Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher still love each other. You know! One things for sure however its so good to have Han and Leia and Luke Skywalker back and even age and time wont keep them from being a force in what is now second, third and VII nature to them. They're all here. That furry Sasquatch, R2 and C3PO complete with the mark of a red arm that looks like something out of Tony Stark'a Iron Man inventory...I guess these neighbors have been borrowing more than a cup of sugar. Still the next generation of stars show they can becomes instant favorites too. Daisy Ridley is a star in the making...the making that happens over the two hour screen time. Whilst John Boyega attacks this one like he attacks the block. Don't worry if you didn't line up around the street corners for those auditions last year. Nobody was beating these two. Or the tag team chemistry this big deal has with the next great actor of our time Oscar Isaac, who is award worthy with the way he steals the spotlight everyone he boards this picture. With classic movie star looks and Hollywood cocksure charisma the former indie actor breaks out and kind of show us what it would have been like if Al Pacino ended up playing Solo like he almost did back in the day. Even Oscar's 'Ex Machina' science fiction co-star Domhnall Gleeson is on hand as a camped up baddie, but the real villain is Adam Driver's incredible Kylo Ren. Complete with cloak, one hell of a brimstone burning dagger and his own epic helmet and mask making his instant iconic voice sound like the halfway house between a Bane and Lord Vader. Darth's helmet is even on charred call for that Sith, dark side inspiration. All this plus the voice of '12 Years A Slave' Oscar winner Lupita Nyong'o and the motion capture of Gollum and 'Planet Of The Apes' white dot actor Andy Serkis who may as well invent a whole new category for the Academy. Even the legendary Max Von Sydow makes a cameo. What more could you ask for? The closest thing to a Bobba Fett like bounty? The Buzz Lightyear Christmas toy of the year under everyone's tree in the form of a droid that shares the same charisma and circumference as Wilson from 'Cast Away'? Even a don't worry if you blink, you'll still miss it anyway, J.J. 'Trek' buddy Simon Pegg, or is it 007 himself with the Stormtrooping cameo? Well its all here. Believe it. Just like the hype and what everyone's saying. Its true...all of it! No need to have a bad feeling about this! TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

REVIEW: THE NIGHT BEFORE

4/5

Ding, Bong, Merrily On High.

101 Minutes. Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anthony Mackie, Lizzy Caplan, Mindy Kaling, Jillian Bell, Michael Shannon & Tracy Morgan. Director: Jonathan Levine.

Twas 'The Night Before' Christmas. And all through the movie. Not a creature was stirring. Not even a Wookie.

For the force of 'Star Wars' would not awaken for another night. Because on this special day a Robin, Falcon and 'Green Hornet' would on Santa's sleigh take flight.

On Rogen. On Gordon-Levitt. On Mackie. On a F.A.O Schwarz 'Big' piano runway playing Kanye. Lets hear it for the douche bags, lets hear it for the a##holes. Lets hear it for Ant, Joe and Seth and their love letter song to F.A.O.

Three bud brothers down to the last tote. On one special night the let it snow. A time honored tradition on Christmas eve. To stay together until like the Star of David they reached the top of the tree.

But then time happens year after year. Like a family's new born babies and NFL celebrity cheer. So when all its all about to be over for the one man show from 'Looper'. It's time for one last Hangover, no Bradley Cooper.

As Joe Levitt hits record on this Christmas movie revue. He's joined to the 'This Is The End' by your friendly, 'Neighbor'-hood king of comedy who last Christmas almost gave you 'The Interview'. This year to save you from no tears he's giving it all away all again. Yet who would have known we would save a special comedy talent coming to America in the Marvel sidekick to the Captain.

But that's not all superheros from our red breast rob. Smoking in the car like an on fire Michael Shannon, funny as hell, no longer General Zod. And how about three wise women for this big-three bromance with heart. Because Lizzy Caplan, Jillian Bell and Mindy Kaling more than play their pitch perfect part.

Now what more could you ask for this Christmas on your cinema screens. Than the latest hit, classic comedy from Levitt and Rogen's '50/50' Jonathan Levine. How about some storytelling narration from your man, back and well better than ever Tracy Morgan. Or references to the classics, from 'Home Alone' to 'Goldeneye' one and all again.

So reach for that egg nog and grab your Christmas sweater. Because when it comes to the good tidings of films like this nothing is better. Everyone's here in classic cameo, from a 'Wrecking Ball' to basketballs Baron Davis. Here's one Christmas party that goes harder than Miley Cyrus.

Seasons greetings from New York, New York the home of December 25th. For this Winters tale that is the lightest and warmest gift. No story will get you more in the spirit than three dudes that are as wise as the are tight. So Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

REVIEW: BRIDGE OF SPIES

4/5

Saving Private Hanks.

141 Minutes. Starring: Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance, Amy Ryan & Alan Alda. Director: Steven Speilberg.

Catch this if you can! In the coldest war in the coldest Winter, Tom Hanks reunites with a director as legendary as he is an actor. Following the banding with his brother Steven Spielberg for 'Saving Private Ryan', taking off with 'The Terminal' and caching up with Leonardo DiCaprio comes their new classic collaboration under the magnify glass, 'Bridge Of Spies'. A historical drama that continues the legendary mastermind behind 'Jaws', 'E.T.' and 'Jurassic Park's deeper turn into these shadows and corners of history after his brilliant 'Lincoln' biography and the stage he set with his 'War Horse' showcase. This spy game inspired by true events travels from throwing the book at classic courtroom drama in defense of an agent of the enemy, to Germany where the negotiation battle for a swap of two prisoners of war tries to break down barriers to the backdrop of the construction of the Berlin wall. With this union with the Soviets comes some literal and metaphorical themes that you best believe still translate to a lost today. Making for one sensational story penned by Matt Charman and the collaborating Cohen's for a traditional tale thats texture off the slow burning pages of the script is even more of a testament throwback than 'Catch Me If You Can'. Billowing and blowing through the wind of a scotch bar, cigar room's ashtray. Smokin'.

From this fifties feeling first tote you can taste the tobacco and touch the tweed lining of a conversation piece that needs no action to thrill with it's old school "son of a b####"  firm truth handling. Yet if has plenty of perfectly nerve wracking set-pieces from an aerial assault that takes you back to all the horrors that soldiers younger than students had to endure in all its terrifying gravity, to some capered cat and mouse between the sidewalks of what seems like just another walk home at night, dripping in 'Road To Perdition' rain and double agent topcoats and umbrellas. This is as outstandingly old fashioned as the chrome and paint on the vintage automobiles sweeping past. Spielberg may have brought wow to our wonderment in the golden era of the 80's and the 90's more than this, but in his whiskey years he's far from being on ice with what just may be his greatest looking picture yet. Mesmerizing in both its tone and rolling delivery that is slow, but oh so satisfying in all it's answers to it's thought provoking themes that will resonate the more you leave the cinema and switch on your television to watch the news...or pick up your 'Time' magazine, because this is that iconic and classically timeless. Just like Spielberg himself, he's more than still got it or on top of his game...he's in a whole new lane. Scene to snow scaped scene of sensational symbolism and stakes. Bringing the best and highest out of his acting talent from the amazing Amy Ryan in wonderful, stand by your man wife role that is far from playing. To legendary M.A.S.H. actor Alan Alda, who is back with this and 'The Longest Ride' and hasn't been this great since almost a decade ago with DiCaprio in 'The Aviator'. And let's hear it for character actor of the moment Jesse Plemons who is having quite the week with this and Johnny Depp's Boston 'Black Mass'.

Yet everyone is about to hear it for Mark Rylance. The Olivier award winning actor may just join that big name statuette in his trophy cabinet with one names Oscar, because the Academy are going to love this like when Barkhad Abdi starred sensationally alongside Mr. Tom for 'Captain Phillips'. And after the twice over snub of this return to classic form and the supporting look of 'Saving Mr. Banks', the Academy definitely owe thanks and more award appreciation to Hanks for more memories of mastermind like movie moments. He was robbed when it came to 'Phillips' and 'Mr. Banks', but now saving this private it's time for a fair exchange. You have to salute these two standing men, no knocks. Rylance in the corner, in the spy shadows backed up against a high silhouetted wall, but with the quite storm nervousness of a man that's scrapping below the subtle surface of what looks like a weathered but withstanding demeanor of someone taking it all in their slow stepping stride. It's the 'Best Supporting Actor' opponents that are the ones who should be scared...but would it help? Hanks' certainly does with his traditional acting that goes beyond words on the page of a script to the genuine humanity of a man that always plays it straight laced, even when going down the gangster road of 'Perdition'. But there's much more too it then that. As Hanks goes for gold whilst mining all he can out of a man that is giving his all and travelling so far so one man on the other side can walk just a few steps. But oh the significance of it all. And oh how good it is thanks to how great they are. Both their restrained passions are as understated as that statement is itself. Rylance is a real as it gets and Hanks is Hanks. With 'Saving' spirit, 'Philadelphia' soul, 'Cast Away' survival and 'Captain Phillips' resilience at 'Green Mile' lengths it's a dedication worth its weight and wait in gold and he'll share it with his co-star and director. Mission: Possible! Even with an U.N.C.L.E's worth for your bob this year, with the sleuth of spy movies that have come out this Cold War classic bridges all sorts of gaps. There's no secret to that kingmans gold standard service. TIM DAVID HARVEY.