Thursday, 28 January 2016
101 Minutes. Starring: Ice Cube, Kevin Hart, Olivia Munn, Ken Jeong & Tyrese Gibson. Director: Tim Story.
Ride or die? WOOP! WOOP! It's the sound of the police! Yep that's right the brothers in law are back in arms and this is the perfect 'Bad Boys 3' Summer movie for your January blues. All the way to the Heat of King James' former Miami throne. Complete with on the ocean, jersey logo typography. Whatcha gonna do? Need another ride? Come along! After what seems like a neon 'Rush Hour' of an opening, the nitrus car show introduction in this buddy cop comedy almost looks like one more ride with the 'Fast & Furious'. Complete with Roman Pierce too thanks to a classy cameo from actor slash singer Tyrese Gibson, polishing his action star resume with some comedy cliff notes. But its the rapper next to his shotgun that takes the wheel like Vin here...all Diesel! 'Straight Outta Compton', funny mother###### named Ice Cube is hotter than ever. An actor with attitude who looks like he took his Florida vacation off '22 Jump Street' all the way to South Beach...and his comedy talents are still Cavalier. The former gangster rapper and one of the greatest hip hop stars of all time these days has more in common with big budget comedies. Are you there yet? All the way from 'Jump Street' to your local 'Barbershop'. But he may have found his Tucker and Chan, Murphy and Nolte, '48 Hour' home and hold next to the smallest and biggest comedy star in the world. And now they're here for another one. Even if "they" dont want you to make movies in DJ Khaled's city.
Tell that to Kevin because we need to talk about him. The comedy King of Hart has got the bacon as the funniest man in the world right now and in a two way tie with 'Trainwreck' star Amy Schumer for funniest person on the planet. This stand up guy is just that funny and his sold out 'What Now' arena is answering any critic that questions him right now....worldwide. Still it's rare that a microphone master can make the transition to behind the camera as a movie star so well...maybe even rarer than a rapper. Yet like Miami beach cop 'Bad Boy' Martin Lawrence, Hart is def at comedy and whatever other jam he gets himself in. Whether he's the 'Wedding Ringer' best man for Olaf from 'Frozen' or trying to get Will Ferrell hard...wait...erm! Let it go...Let it gooooo! Put it this way Kevin Hart has the massive movies to even make his stage spotlight take a stage left back seat....yeah they wish! Even with an even stronger sequel supporting cast, from new X-Men mutant, Olivia Munn, kicking ass like it was the 'Apocalypse', to the hungover Ken Jeong with a hell of a morning after. All after a villain that looks like he could be John Leguizamo from the first movie 20 years later. You can't stop this dynamo. Hart attacks this and puts the black hammer down until your under cardiac arrest. He even looks to have another great buddy cop tandem picture in place with the 'Central Intelligence' of The Rock, Dwyane Johnson rolling (now...don't get us started on how hard it is to become a successful actor...comedy and action after being a professional wrestler). Which if judging from their back and forth trailer and the tag line 'All you need is a little Hart and a big Johnson' it's going to be C.I.heeeey hilarious!
Going undercover there is more you need in this comedy cocktail however and that's two cubes of Ice. Then you know everything is going down smooth when it comes to the slick comedy set pieces and the bantering back and forth between the rapper and the comedian. From impersonanting dignitaries with...well at lot of respect left to be desired (but still too 'Family Guy' offensively funny) to Ocean Drive, 'Grand Theft Auto' car chases straight out of the video game hub of 'Vice City Stories'. Not a joke here is wasted and any that don't hit their mark are made up by the classy, charismatic chemistry between the top two billing leading men. Behind all the big set up jokes like some of the freight finale, paint by numbers action sequences there are much more subtler and better gags that will leave you needing one. From the mannerisms to the way they say things you'll be howling. From Hart's innate comic timing genome and natural chemistry with hilarity, to the way O'Shea Jackson Senior makes everything sound like a seagull just crapped on the parking ticket of his car the moment he rolled it off the lot....oh and he scratched the door whilst opening it frustratedly onto a bollard too. Still all in all it was a good day. And this your perfect Friday film for the weekend. You'll be laughing so much you wont be able to feel your face. In this 'Ride Along', 'Training Day' cop car all they need to do is have the little Hart open his big mouth and see the officer that once told the police where to go look back with his shaded, stoic angry as s### reaction too. We could watch it all day. Do you still want to ride? TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Sunday, 24 January 2016
130 Minutes. Starring: Steve Carell, Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt, Marisa Tomei & Melissa Leo. Director: Adam McKay.
Blindsided by the banks during the bubbling credit of the financial crisis on the housing market between 2007 and 2008 that led to ravaging recessions and 'what about us' bailouts, millions and millions of decent, everyday hardworking people lost their jobs, homes...and what worse, livliehoods. Criminal! Now like in his sporting work ('The Blind Side' and more), maverick author of acclaim Michael Lewis is giving us all the 'Moneyball' numbers and statistical stories with his latest legacy making, brilliant book, that 'Anchorman', 'Talladega Nights' and 'The Other Guys' director and 'Ant-Man' superhero saver, funnyman Adam McKay is turning into his most serious movie yet. Seriously funny. Seriously satirical. Seriously slick. And oh so seriously good. 'The Big Short'. No not some Will Ferrell comedy about his penis, but something much more serious than that. Seriously funny. Seriously satir...wait we did that already! It's easy to get lost in the hard sell numbers and facts of this one, but that's why in the dead-on 'Deadpool' like fourth wall breaking, dynamic direction of this 'Best Picture' nom, the "science" or should we say maths bit is told to you by famous actresses who could be filming their own Loreal commercial. Is that Harley Quinn in the bath? Concentrate! This is 'The Wolf Of Wall Street' for the conscious Dylan crowd. 'Boiler Room' incinerating to the Gekko Greed of those bulls(hitters) on Wall Street who think 'Money Never Sleeps'! WAAAAAAKE UPPPPPPPP!!!!
Yeah I'm looking at you and so is Ryan Gosling. Yes that's right ladies...directly. Reaching out face to face in this house of falling cards and offering you an anger invoked and covered fearful induced warning...albeit out for his own cut too. You better check this guy....even if you dont know what to make of him. He's fake tanned and lizard suited to boot with that Just For Men with more money than sense perm that may leave you wondering what's that douche he's wearing. Belfort? "You smell that?" he asks referring to Benjamin...but it could be bull#### (credit to the guy two rows left that shouted that out in the cinema). Still what lies beneath all those pearly white veneers and marble floor salaries is a man who is on more than an even impassioned simmer, but looks like he's ready to boil at any point. Or topple like his outdated Jenga methaphor...but that's the point. Brick by brick the 'Drive' actor is giving us his finest work...JACKED! Even with a haircut that only God could forgive...yet still he makes work. And brick by brick he's giving Steve Carell advice and life lessons again like in 'Crazy, Stupid Love'. But this time it's not about love (although a magnificent Marisa Tomei (who he hooked up with on 'C.S.L.' is here, so something must have gone right with Gosling's 'Ides Of March' co-star) or training your fashion to not look like Steve Jobs. Suited and blonde bleached, Carell is almost in fat cat financial shape here. Yet you can bank on more of a character full performance here that is more depth than debt, for a comedy superstar that with the formidable 'Foxcatcher' sneering snare last year showed he had the trappings of real acting chops. And here he makes almost as much a transfixing transformation, just more subtely so. The signs of a great actor, here to stick around even if the banks didnt...no joke!
Knocking it out the park from the dugouts, even Michael Lewis' (lets just turn all his classic books into movies the same) 'Moneyball' big-hitter Brad Pitt is making trade swings, from casinos in the now second home of lost money Las Vegas to small pubs in Britain. That hilariously offers English locals the chance to give the Hollywood hearthrob, former sexiest man in the world and Mr. Jolie crap over a pint of Guiness. He hasn't received this much scorn since 'By The Sea'. But don't underrate that or this. Even in a small, supporting status of a role the star is still stellar and shining, with a hell of a lot to say. Look, listen even if one of the worlds most famous faces appears like the Geography greying beard one of a fleece comfortable teacher, he really is about to take you to school. Even if Brad is called Bill and affords more like an enviromentalist who recycles his own waste to soil and grow his own meals like a Matt Damon 'Martian' (and yes he kind of does), Pitt is still the s###! But if you want to look through the glass eye of a real Best Supporting Actor like the Academy than Oscar look no further than Christian Bale. Here's the methods of a maestro actor that once starved himself down to the skin of his ribcage for the bones of 'The Machinist', only to do it medically ill-advised, years later again for David O. Russell for the drugged out 'Fighter'. Only to plump and fatten up for the same directors 'American Hustle', all whilst muscling up to play the 'Dark Knights' of the best Batman all in between. But more than this brutal body and soul starved dedication is the measure of this mans actual acting taking place. Even here Christian's spirited performance goes beyond the call of duty, behind a desk and computer as he learns how to barefeet his way round a man who lives between the whiteboards of his office and the budget trimmings of Supercuts, whilst everything else millions money wise is being sliced and diced around him like falling salon hair. And Bale's haystacked talent also extends to him studying the heavy metal greats so he can learn how to slap the skins like a demon possessed with a rage that needs to be channeled raw riffing. Drumroll please! Batman may have finally beat Bane. Breaking 'The Revenant's' back to a gold statue win over Tom Hardy. But there's more to this epic ensemble than four of Hollywood's best leading horsemen in the Academy. There's so many more players here, from affable 'New Girl' characters made to look like cretins, classic cameos and new actors looking to make their own mainstay mark. Even another mid-February, Kodak Theatre lover is here as the marvellous Melissa Leo gives her two cents. And thats the point. The forlorn financial time effects everybody, Hollywood or not (but we're not talking about the mortgages on their mansions) and all the actors here show and share an all encompassing truth...we are all victims here. This big picture has no shortcomings when it comes to showing this literally or figuratively...no matter the on screen or look through the lens direction. They say money talks, but 'The Big Short' sings! Let the fat cats squeal! TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Monday, 18 January 2016
156 Minutes. Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Will Poulter & Domnhall Gleeson. Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu.
Raw and as real as it gets. Blood boiled and revenged ravaged, 'The Revenant' is the most intense and immersive film you'll watch all year, if ever...and its only January. Epic in length and scale this is no short one but boy are you in it for the long haul. Forget the Costner classic 'Dances With Wolves' in the heart of the real Native Americam land, this is a foxtrot with 'The Wolf of Wall Street' as Leo goes all bear grills with Baloo and lives to write his own Jungle Book. Based on Michael Punke's beautifully brilliant novel journal, after having papa bear claw strip him down to his necessities (seriously though what a scarily sickening, yet superbly sublime scene), our Glass character (who is anything but) is buried alive and left for dead by his own comrades...and he got off lightly compared to the dark fate his son faces. Yet our lead doesnt have to worry about dying....he's done it already. So the one who has returned...as if from the dead is out for an eye for an eye...or head! Now the greatest actor of our generation, Leonardo DiCaprio doesnt have to worry about losing out on so many Oscars...he's about to win one already. Thanks to the flocking, wing spreading directing of Academy Award nominated Alejandro González Iñárritu. Whose gone from the theatrical one shot of the unexpected virtue of 'Birdman' to an epic continuation of this classic camera work for some battle scenes as beautiful as the are brutal. Dont be ignorant. But that's nothing compared to the scary sense of intimidatingly isolated scale the out in the woods high-rising filming up the trees targets and evokes. Or the terrific and magnificent Terrence Malik 'Tree Of Life' like dream sequences that grow here in visonary imagination. Stirring your every sense, even a spirited sixth, 'The Revenant' goes down in your every revery.
Golden Globe winner Leonardo DiCaprio can finally get his Oscar speech ready. Forget about all those running jokes and memes. After starting with a supporting nomination as a kid for his brave and bold performance in 'What's Eating Gilberts Grape', he received three 'Best Actor' nominations over his illustrious, inspired career. The Academy didnt give it for his classic, trademark confliction taking flight in 'The Aviator'. Or his accented performance taking on more 'Blood Diamond' confliction in South Africa. He even brought an afforded appeal to a Gekko greedy a##hole in 'The Wolf Of Wall Street' that really walked the line between money, cocaine, ludes and general douche-baggery. But DAMN was it something else! Just like his incredible performance Hmm, Hmm. But you could tell why some in the Academy may not have voted. But now this 'Revenant' is undeniable. Draped in the wild of bison fur and lost in the woods with a beard that would make the folks in Bon Iver proud, Leo not only looks the part he is it. Putting his vegetarian beliefs aside to eat raw buffalo meat through sickening (I know right...at least cook it first) and even putting his briefs aside in baltic temperatures whilst climbing into an animal carcass, makeshift bed to keep warm just like Luke Skywalker. Still, its more than this that makes the actor that once turned down Spider-Man (what?!) and Anakin Skywalker in 'Star Wars' (now that would have been something...we knew that kid looked like him) choose and prove his roles carefully. From the "get to the boat" opening battle cry, screamed like he was escaping some forest predator, to the paralysed spittle of stress in watching his own heart and soul being hung, drawn and quarted with his spine breakingly inability to do anything about it, this wrought and fought emotion isnt just a measure of this actors dedication, but unashamedly how it would really be, holding nothing back. And we haven't even got into the bear fight yet or the journey he takes back from near death to the redemption of a revenge paid for in blood and bone. Even when all alone and with barely a line of dialogue, DiCaprio brings out the solitary confidement of the senses in a confidence that only this actor can. Forget the award, this is the definitive leading man of our times redefinition and defining performance. He says in few words more volumes than those could say with acts of Tarantino dialogue. Now the man that should have been nominated for 'Django Unchained', aswell as 'Catch Me If You Can', 'Shutter Island', 'Romeo + Julliet' and damn near everything else he's done deserves his due.
Supporting the award cause with his own nomination is Tom Hardy in the villanous role. Now you know when a film features DiCaprio barely saying three words most of the times and co-starring his 'Inception' co-star Hardy, you know they're not going to run out of script paper for the dialogue. But yet again the nuanced Tom Hardy is an incredible actor of expression that does more with what he doesnt say and what the eyes of the soul translates to you instead. And what a year its been for the greatest British actor. After the maverick 'Mad Max' that may be the first all balls blockbuster to get a 'Best Picture' nomination in time, to the 'Legend' that was his double act as the Kray twins that if anything was inspired for its creative depth and dedication of craft...and how green screen damn hard it was itself. I mean this guy kicks his own ass better than Jim Carrey in 'Liar, Liar' or overthinkers. And this is just the beginning for the 'Locke' actor who knows all about driving a star vehicle all on your own, with your hands on 10 and 2. Here reuniting with the 'Inception' of Leo for a fan girls dream he doesnt get lost within one or behind the biggest name in acting that a talent like him only trails. He even brings the conflicting, thought process of a wrong man drowning in desperation no matter the front and its a tour de force of a man on his own but on the wrong side of the tracks, railroading anyone that stands in his way. Its more than good versus evil. Its desperate times versus desperate measures. There's more than this how ever. The multi-talented Will Poulter really is something running through acting mazes. Whilst the multi-faceted Domnhall Gleeson who has starred in some awakening force called 'Star Wars' and last years best sci-fi 'Ex Machina' is having a year that would make even Oscar Isaac jealous, but he's saved his abslolute character best for last. Still under decadent directing it is the pure, soulful iron will of a captivating as this movie is compelling, DiCaprio that brings new born again life to 'The Revenant'. Revel in it. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Sunday, 17 January 2016
Live At The Apollo.
133 Minutes. Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Phylicia Rashad, Tessa Thompson. Director: Ryan Coogler.
Ding! Ding! Round One. It's 1976 and who would have thought the greatest fight in cinematic history would everlast the full 12 rounds and more than 40 years? As the Italian Stallion from Philly ascended the 'Rocky' steps and fist pumped Carl Weathers' Apollo Creed in the face and became the champ without knocking him out or even winning that bout. He beat all the competition however. 'All The Presidents Men' and De Niro's 'Taxi Driver' to the Academy's Best Picture heavyweight belt. Now who said this prize fighter wasnt worth his pound for pound weight in Oscar gold? Because from a Golden Globe to the undisputed award nomination the Academy are supporting Sylvester Stallone, right in his corner once again. After Sly played rope a dope with critics for years from drawing 'First Blood' from his 'Rambo' franchise and then showing us all the 'Judge Dredd' and 'Demolition Man' star was far from belonging with the rest of 'The Expendables'. But if you thought that was his most creative homage franchise of sorts than you havent seen nothing yet in this modern day Hollywood nostalgia age. Round Two. This is the man that finally beat Apollo in 'Rocky II'. Round Three. Showed the 'A Team' of Mr. T that he was no fool in 'Rocky III'. Round Four. Avenged the death of Creed by the gloves of Dolph Lungren in 'Rocky V'. Round Five. Didn't even step in the ring but still street K.O.'d some kid for 'Rocky VI'. All before making his name again in 2006, still dancing at 60 in the video game age with 'Rocky Balboa'. Six round knockout. The King of the Ring like a 'Raging Bull' even knew how to send himself up alongside Bobby in their comedy 'Grudge Match'. But now after all these years Balboa is back in a spin off, reboot sequel ringside. As soon as you hear that iconic music you know its on. Da, da, daaa. Da, da daaa!
But this time the eye of the tiger belongs to to the beholding vision of a new legend. Survivor rising up, a young simba in this game like J. Cole is a lion. The Human Torch that fantastically ignites our screens aflame, hotter than Steph Curry with the shot. A real Marvel despite a flawed reboot (we're talking about 'F4' not 'Rocky 7'). And the name of this (fictional but probably has the muscle to step it up for real) sporting legend, Michael Jordan. Wait...what? Again...no, not M.J. B, but Michael B. Jordan. You think that was an 'Akward Moment'? You shouldnt. You should know this kids name by now thanks to films like that class comedy and more meaningful movies like the underrated, Academy ignored 'Fruitvale Station'. A critical movie that everybody needs to see and hear about, concerning the all too soberingly familiar, tragic turn of Oscar Grant who was shot by police in the Oakland train station AFTER being handcuffed and pinned to the ground. How can anybody especially the Academy ignore Oscar's story? Well Michael didn't with a heartfelt and honoured performance that was as raw as it was respectful, yet redefining. But now reuniting with dangerously dynamic director Ryan Coogler (who has just been handed the keys to Wakanda by Marvel for the new Chadwick Boseman 'Black Panther' movie AFTER the cats 'Civil War' debut) the pair are unfairly getting the Oscar 'Sicario' like snub again despite Stallone being lifted above shoulders even when pushing 70. Still regardless of how Sly this all is in the raging red corner is Apollo's baby blue. This is 'Creed'...the 'Rocky' legacy but Adonis Creed all the same, weathering the storm of his fallen fathers name and fame. And honoring it all the same. Kind of like what star and director do for Oscar. In some ways you could call this a spiritual sequel of tribute to 'Fruitvale'. And the potential of what could have been to so many lives of those living under surface ignorance and racist discrimination if those in power really treated them like they mattered. Showing Grant from the canvas to the fist pumped skies that living vicariously through M.J.'s work he's still a champion. This is for him. Its more than a snub. These movies have always been about more than sports. But just like the Chicago Bulls always belonged to number 23, this is Jordan's movie...and Coogler's too in their tag teamed up real reunion. Jordan looks like the greatest of future times and can take more than a sucker punch...not just from the Academy. He's even managed to float like a butterfly away from Jake Gyllenhaal's stunning 'Southpaw' (here's a guy who during a Hollywood Reporter rountable discussion with the Oscar merit likes of Matthew McConaughey, Josh Brolin and Forest Whitaker, geeked out at having Gyllenhaal standing behind him...but just look at this kid now). But his powerful passion and ingrained intensity really stings like a bee. He kills it with an assassins Creed. And just wait until all that soul and emotion, spills out like blood on the canvas to the heart of a terrific and tenacious Tessa Thompson who can really cut a record. Or the moving mothering of the magnificent Phylicia Rashad...yep Claire Huxtable from 'The Cosby Show'. Everybodies mother in the 80's! It's all love!
Chasing chickens isnt the only thing Coogler has in his coop as this franchises new promotor goes all Don King in his hype homage and Mayweather modern day movement. From old gyms, restaurants and friends, all the way down to the turtle, some teenagers wont get the references, but in the seventies if your greatest opponent in the mirror was acne you'll spot and love it. This is 'Rocky' all the way down to the trillby and rubber, stress ball bouncing. But the 'Creed' of this new franchises still knows its new audience. Espeically in the heart of the inner streets of a Philadelphia Springsteen sang about, from The Roots of a legendary soundtrack to those little hood motorcyles. And I bet you thought Balboa's shadow boxing step up the Musuem of Art was inspiring enough to get you all amped up. Well circle around this and you wont be running on fumes, but pure passion petroleum, diesel power. And as for the boxing scenes themselves, surrealy staged in Liverpool football team Everton's Goodison Park, you've barely seen realer or better from 'The Hurricane' to 'Ali' in this modern but all real, no fake, no FX update. It makes HBO look like WWE. Getting ready to Rocky rumble this really finds itself on the same canvas as the classics of this great genre. And we aren't talking about all the Rocko movies, even though this one captures the duked out drama, biggest battle is outside the ring, life methaphor of a sport and most successful game to take it to the blockbuster movie ring with Tyson tenacity (just wait until the next Foxx biopic). That's why we keep talking all these hits...whether you booyah the sport or think it barbaric. And of course we do because of Sylvester. Still no pussycat when most would be stroking one in their Barcalounger like Blofeld. What more can we say about this all-action, all-American hero that the Academy Award isnt about to? The direction this movie maker has over fond friend and raved rival Schwarzenegger. His underrated complete, actual acting style. His charismatic, nice nature as he talks to old friends whether they are from the wrong end of the tracks, or on the other side completely. Or the genuine grit on his reatrained emotion (leeeets geeet reaady for the man tears to ruuuuumbbbble!) and pure pained and powerfully painted passion that brings everything back that ever hurt him. You dont know what he's been through...like he doesnt you. But remember its not about how hard you're hit. And boy does he get hit AND get back up, even in the clocked face of the undisputed opponent of time. Seconds out? Nah Rocky Stallone has given years to this. And the winner and still undefeated, heavyweight champion of the world is.... AAAADRIAANNNE! TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Saturday, 16 January 2016
Silver Linings Hustle.
124 Minutes. Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Edgar Ramirez, Diane Ladd, Virginia Madsen, Isabella Rossellini & Bradley Cooper. Director: David O. Russell.
'Joy' to the word, Jennifer Lawrence is one of the worlds best. Going once, twice and now three times a Rich lady with modern day leading director David O. Russell and iconic legend Robert De Niro in 'Silver Linings Playbook' and 'American Hustle' and these aforementioned attractions plus the deep south 'Serena' with what chemistry says should be an off screen love interest Bradley Cooper (but its not we're not a gossip column, spreading rumors. They are just good friends). Now add 'Joy' to David O. Russell's big three films with his big three actors. But if in this world 'Trainwreck' basketball Cavalier LeBron James is king...than J-Law is queen. The 'Mockingjay' has finally caught fire and finished 'The Hunger Games'...parts one and two (have you Collins chapter readers?). But even after being the franchisee of a franchise that really ate up everything, she's still famished for more. To catch fire with a Mockingjay again, go set your watch man...its her time. This Lawrence of the Academy has been nominated for an Oscar once again after winning the first time she took to the red carpet and didnt trip over a little stumble...or two. Now with her latest look into the American Playbook she's living the United States dream all the way to the Walk Of Fame in a Hollywood that belongs to her. The young Meryl Streep is on a hot streak that doesnt look to set, but only continue to rise like the California sun. 'X-Mens' magnificent Mystique (make that two leading cult franchises) is adapting her shape shifting chamelonic nature to yet another character. This time a woman who took the shopping networks of QVC by storm and became a self made millionaire by creating inventions for the home like the miracle mop. The same clean sweep this maverick actress is using to wipe away the competition. From 'Carol' to Cate Blanchett and all the other amazing actresses out there. Now if that or her isnt Apple Pie inspiring or a slice of the American dream, than I dont know what is.
Maybe Russell? David O. is really outstanding in his hustle of telling tales of the American dream. Just check the linings of his playbook. That's not silver...its Academy gold Oscar. All that glitz shot in the niched, signature style of gleaming instant vintage cinematics truly glitters, like the snowflakes falling on the aviators of our leading blonde bombshell with her sea eyes to a sky just as beautiful blue. But it's more than the legacy making look that meets the shaded eye of a man that directs a runaway runway cast of young Hollywood stars that throb the hearts and pin up the billboards they post up. There's a heart and soul of substance behind the chic and cool fashioned style. From drama dynamics to dialogue depth these movies are unflinchinhly emotional and unforgivingly funny. Even 'Joy', no matter the emotion...or actor. From rising, sky-diving and surfing 'Point Break' reboot star Edgar Ramirez, who is really having the Swayze of his life and is on point all the time here as one half of the best divorced couple and friends ever. To some real wonder women for our heroic young Mystique to look up to. Like the versatile maestro Virginia Madsen or the legendary Diane Ladd in mothering and grand roles respectively. Even the iconic Isabella Rossellini is here and better than ever in this Russ reunion. Someone call Ross from 'Friends'. Laminate this one when you lament it because if this movie has the characters than the director has the development. And even stunningly set in the winter bones of a small town the texture is much more to the touch of the traditional Russell bill. No matter how many vivid imaginations his dollars could dream up.
All the millions have nothing on the three making all of that and more. The 'Godfather' of 'Goodfella' gangster Robert De Niro has had a 'Casino' of a royal career. Even meeting the parents and re-inventing himself in post retirement from 'Last Vegas' to 'Dirty Grandpa' in maybe a way a classic contemporary like Pacino could not. Still after all the 'Heat' this actor has been in, something felt like it was missing, or lost forever until Russell found a new direction for the legend legacy that mixes his penchant for comedy and tragedy potently. You can laugh at a line where De Niro compares his ex wife to a gas leak, but you can also see the hurt behind it that truly kills him. Only an actor like him could give us that with so much deliverance. Russell just know how to get the best out of his actors...even the best. Just ask Christian Bale...or his bathroom scales. Luckly Russell has been hanging with next pretty boy turned Pitt, Bradley Cooper for some time now. Bringing the anxiety awareness out of him for 'Silver Linings' and the hair curlers for 'Hustle'. Watching him go from the stage of nomination to that of theatre, from Broadway to the West End in 'The Elephant Man' that will be his Oscar if ever adapted and remade in cinemas. Here even in a reduced role as a cable station manager, Cooper owns it, from apologising for his rude colleagues almost laughing Lawrence out of the room after a "long week", to showing beneath the quality, value and convenience suit he wears like the weathered look on his face that it's been one of those years. You can see it in his characters eyes...no matter how hungover or still dreamy you think they are. Nothing looks to Russell's latest laser focussed vision like Lawrence however. After all 'the Oscar nomination goes too'... The best young actor in the world shows everyone everywhere the power of a self-made dream through good old fashioned hard work over plain old ignorant dismissals from those who will never make it like you desire to. This is more than hustle. Its struggle. Its survival. Its a better way. Better days. A better life. And it all starts with the motivation of inspiration. Hope a joyous cousin. Happiness personified. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
The Other Dads.
96 Minutes. Starring: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Linda Cardellini, Thomas Hayden Church & Hannibal Buress. Director: Sean Anders & John Morris.
Whose your daddy? No...not him although its a pleasure to meet you sir! No I'm talking about 'The Other Guys'. Two former buddy cops who are in need of more than one spray of a Febreeze fresh start like a college dorm room, now they've gone from partners in crime to fathers in line. Stepping up to the plate as the non-biological in the blue corner is the undisputed King of Comedy, Will Ferrell. Now he may be a 'Semi-Pro' when it comes to this, but who better to anchor the manly role as your stand in pops than Ron Burgundy himself? Knights of Colombus it hurts when this guy makes you laugh...from 'Talladega Nights' to the 'Blades Of Glory'. Feeding our funny every morning like toast and two scrambled eggs, Will's ways now know how to start your comedy year the right way each calender. Last year he 'Got Hard' with 'Ride Along' resident funny man, stand up Kevin Hart and this time he's going even harder too. The man whose looked like a T.V. sitcom dad since his debut in every household with 'Saturday Night Live' finally becomes one for this modern family, but forget about getting embarrased by dad dancing, because a Will Ferrell film wouldnt be a Will Ferrell film without him being without his shirt on, or close up to the camera screaming something as crazy as the slapstick schtick he's about to hit you with. And whatever you do don't take this Flint Tropic to a basketball game, even if it as Lakers one. And DON'T let him take the halftime halfcourt shot, because it'll be a bigger hit than the time Niles Crane put it up on 'Frasier'. But are you listening, because Jackie Moon has still got it. And all of Ferrell's fearless cracks of comedy are still whipped into the shape of the crease on his belly. The same place you'll find most of your laughs.
But your going to feel it in your gut when the new kid on the block hits you because Marky Mark is rapping up quite the comedy career like his brother does burgers. You may know this 'Lone Survivor' from modern day hero classics like 'The Departed', 'The Fighter', 'The Gambler' and 'Contraband' but after doing two comedies with his furry friend 'Ferrell' and 'Ted' too this family guys lighter side is no longer concealed and hidden. He's a true 'Transformer', forget Optimus Prime and riding a steel horse of his own machine in leather, denim, buckle, boots and and no local barber, he rocks like an Ace of Spades Motorhead forget a Bon Jovi cowboy. He's the real deal. The real dad. No donor. You've all seen 'Boogie Nights'...we dont need a paternity. People always ask why good girls fall for bad guys, but does this Hollywood hunk really compare to the stay at home, step dad Will? Well even if he is trying to break up and remake up a happy home from his pre-papa Rolling Stone memories he certainly does in the comedy department. With more in store, oftentimes Wahlberg's banter bangers come off even better than Ferrell's firecrackers. Just check out how he deals with everything from dry walls to dance halls. But just like when Will fights back and pulls more punches, Mark's reaction is priceless. Its all about how these two play off of each other...and boy do these boys play. From John C. Reilly to the Channel 6 New Team, the 'Step Brothers' star may have finally found the perfect comedic collabo with his Step Dads dynamic duo, odd couple opposite. Even if all he wants stay on the road dad Mark Wahlberg to do is put a shirt on like his Brick associate Steve Carell in 'Date Night'. Don't act like you're not impressed.
Step dad or real dad however there's more to this family that matters. Daddy isnt the only one home. Nobody phones it in like E.T.'s red finger here...even the kids are alright. 'E.R.' star Linda Cardellini is on fine form as the mother of this picture. Perfect even though we thought she was Hawkeye's lady...we always knew he and Black Widow had something going on! Budapest? Like cupids arrow you're going to love her like the two fathering male leads with avengance too. She's a marvel and opens her house to even more comedy family in this new Brat Pack ensemble assemble. From the howling offering of 'We Bought A Zoo' hyena laugh keeper, Thomas Hayden Church to the funnyman handyman Hannibal Buress, who is just too funny. He has all the tools. The stand up star is just one cameo away from his own movie. Could gag dynamite directors Sean Anders and John Morris be the ones to give it to him? Because they're giving it all to us here. From tree houses of terror to skateboard ramps Tony couldnt even hawk. Now from the dad-off to the dance offs its time to let the games begin. So whose it going to be? Monday to Friday or weekends and every other thursday? Because this laugh for laugh father-time makes sons out of everyone and everything else. Pop goes the comedy...its found its home again. Nothing is as cool as these daddys...its a family tie. Now can I please have my allowance? TIM DAVID HARVEY.
A Christmas Carol.
118 Minutes. Starring: Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Sarah Paulson, Corey Michael-Smith & Kyle Chandlar. Director: Todd Haynes.
Christmas has come late in this case, but how can we not talk about this multi-Academy Award nominated picture? Especially when it shares the namesake with this writers dear mother. Based on legendary author Patricia Highsmith's semi-autobiographical novel 'The Price Of Salt' and peppered by the woman that supported the amazing adaptation of her 'Talented Mr. Ripley' classic, 'Far From Heaven' and Joaquin Phoenix semi-mocumentary 'I'm Not There' director Todd Haynes gives us his most wonderful work. An affair of a 50's love story set to the Christmas decorated backdrop of a Manhattan mall in the heart of New York Cities beautiful boutiques. Lavish looking in its seductive style, this cinematic classic is as magic as Christmas in New York as the toy trains running through the opening and the gleaming glass cabinet where are two Julliet star crossed lovers meet over the Bloomingdales 'Serendipity' chance luck of a lost pair of leather gloves. And it looks like this pair of leading ladies may as well be wearing white ones. Because Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara look like they are about to polish off a pair of Oscars. The hearts about to get what the heart wants.
Cate is 'Carol' a New Jersey housewife, a state in her Meadowlands Garden past the point of wilting desperation. Kissing wine won't nurse her loneliness and the broken down marriage that her and her husband (a wounded but wonderful Kyle Chandlar) cant provide for, but maybe someone who makes her feel love in her soul as well as her heart will like no one else...no matter who she is. The 'Blue Jasmine' of Blanchett bloomed into Oscar gold, but now going from Woody to 'Carol' she might just double up for her number one film in an 'ography' that is chasing Streep's streak of success that the legendary legacy likes of Jessica Chastain and Jennifer Lawrence could only (only right now anyway) dream of. Dressed in fox fur, French beret and a clinic of classic, Hollywoodland starlet foundation, Blanchett is made up in equal parts beauty and isolated loneliness, hidden behind elegant veneers as smooth as blue velvet. This pearl of a perfect performance is draped and fashioned in more than movie star looks however, the depth to this is much more than skin deep. Beneath this tender touch is a feeling of this womans work to find her worth. Her family may seem comfortable by a warm fireplace at night, yet the paint on the white picket fench is chipping come morning light. A house that is no home here may as well reside on 'Revolutionary Road' with the Academy of fellow nominees Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, because come the middle of February this funny valentine may join the cinematic couple of 'The Revenant' and the 'Steve Jobs' star in a stauette matrimony from the stars of the Hollywood Walk of Fame to the flashbulbs of the Kodak Theatre.
Snap for Cate's 'Carol' co-star, because Rooney Mara looks like the only one that could marr Golden Globe winner Winslet's own double award tour. 'The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo' star has inked herself quite the playing with fire reputation when it come to love stories that get to the heart of matters. There's the comatosed, medicine induced, psychological paranoia of 'Side Effects' and then the social media age application of the future of 'Her'. Whilst nobody should forget her underrated independent gem alongside Casey Affleck in the spirited 'Aint Them Bodies Saints'. Still in the red room here as an aspiring photographer Rooney captures the performance of her portfolio. Painfully shy, but healing in her meditatively soothing nature this young stars two eyes speak volumes of the hearts chambers that a million words could not express. This portrait may just be her lasting moment in the lens. As it is for the anything but negative reel on this film. There's the ever-great and underrated character actor with more leading qualities, Kyle Chandler. The ever-improving and inspired Sarah Paulson as an old flame with a doused spark. Even the riddles of 'Gotham' spotlight star Corey Michael-Smith question the tricks of this enigmatic star. All in all Haynes bears us with something to behold. The joy and tragedy of love in all is high fidelities and how when it comes to the matters of the heart there's more that beats between the romance of marriage and the lust of commitment. More than the nature of relationships, whether tied in a knot or unraveling this movie has something to say about same sex relations. Albeit softly and subtely so in a stereotypical time of ingrained ignorance. And that what's inspired here. No matter what, who, or why, true love is true love. Listen to your heart...not your eyes. Two woman, two men, two souls. Love is blind. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Wednesday, 13 January 2016
I Like The Way You Direct Boy.
167 Minutes. Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Demian Bichir, Bruce Dern & Channing Tatum. Director: Quentin Tarantino.
One. You can hang your stetson on acting legend Kurt Russell. The all-American icon is Western to the 'Tombstone' (whats up Doc? Can we get a wanted poster for Holliday?) He's done it all and this time the man from 'Little China' is bringing hell with him aswell as 'Big Trouble'. Not to mention one chopper of a 'Death Proof' handlebar moustache (different vehicle, same lane...still 'Fast and Furious' with new franchises). Snake slick, this man has escaped from New York and L.A., but can he and his $10,000 bounty find their way out from a blizzard of a snowed and literally nailed in stagecoah stopover, csbin in the woods during the American Civil War with eight strangers each as hateful as the last? Well either way a 'True Grit' dynamite Kurt is going to give us his best in years in a good or bad, whose who, clue mystery room tenser than the John Carpenter alienation of blood and brimstone. It's a hell of a thing! And we're talking about seeing Kurt back on the big stage in this movie that plays out like traditional theatre, gone west. Two. No matter that as the 'Family Guy' joke goes he's in practically every movie out there...especially those marked with a Q.T., it sure is great to see more of the ever cool as the other side of the pillow that he's turning back like the clock, Samuel L. Jackson. And motherf##### has he ever been better than this right now? Maybe only when fiction was pulp. He played it older, but more wearier than wiser in his crooked, classic cane turn in 'Django' two years back, but now he's truly unchained. Forget hell, he's all great vengeance and fury anger for anyone attempting to poison this brothers name. Three. The only thing more striking is the down trodden, but darkly upbeat damsel in, or causing all the distress, Jennifer Jason Leigh. Who almost steals this whole show and movie, bruised and battered and harrowingly hilarious in the face and neck of a helpless hanging but haunting like a grown up Exorcist child with a blood lust look that only a Leonardo DiCaprio injury improv could make. She'll leave you screaming...we'll leave it with you whether it will be with laughter or terror in the face of it all.
Four. Want more old favourites let off the leash and chain? Well Walton Goggins may not know how to pronounce 'Django' but the man who last had his hands on Jamie Foxx's bullets is anything but silent like the D here. Sure he's country like Tennessee, but boy is he accented hillbilly. And you're going to love the way he draws and drawls. Five. Just like Demian Bichir who has crossed the bridge from small screen success to blockbuster big-time as the Mexican actor joins this stopover store, standoff showdown to shoot stereotypes down in the face. Six. Just like great Brit Tim Roth who goes from the raw Reservoirs and the pulp of diner robberies to a situation where if any f###### p### moves than someone will have to shoot every mother####### one of them. Everybody be cool though, this is more than a robbery...its a takeover. Another Wild West classic, forget a 'Ridiculous Six'...Netflix can chill tonight. This is the 'Civil War' movie of the year, Captain like America in 'Revenant' raw beards and bison fur (but where's Leo? Or a Django cameo? Or last Waltz with Christoph?). Seven. How about the magnificent mad dog that is Michael Madsen? Another mutt from the Reservoirs, out for the kill like the bill that he is all for. Like the dollar of the American dream that back in the saloon days came in leather holsters that clicked like spurs. And now with a snap of the fingers and resounding clap Mike is back like the late 90's, forget Black Widow or an Iggy Azzalea video. This is an old mans game. Legends only in this iconic classic. Just ask Bruce Dern. It doesnt get much older (no disrespect) or better (all respect) than the man that was making Westerns back when both he and 'The Good' Clint Eastwood where young men with fists full of dollars and dreams. Now via the black and white of an Oscar gold shining 'Nebraska' and another 'Django Unchained' cameo he makes his way to Wyoming and a chess playing chair that is anything but easy for the final piece. Eight. Checkmate!
Room for one more? Than in this epic ensemble of bad and ugly how about a Billy the Kid? Or should we call him Jodie? Or even Channing? Because Tatum is a knockout in support here, bringing true magic like Mike, making this big pictute truly XXL. Straight off jump street and more than the 21 and 22 crowd like co-star Jonah Hill, who made a classic cameo himself in the last Quentin Western, Channing is compelling. Electric and chaismatic to the closing chapters he's an off the bench spark plug to this playbook after your snacks and shake intermission. But you best believe this Hollywood kid is more than popcorn here in this true grime and genuinely gritted, tooth capped performance. Even if this is all stranger and better than this leading mans director, against type coming to support him on prime time television, as Tatum dressed up as Elsa and Beyonce for a now legendary 'Lip Sync Battle' with his other half where he quotably "killed it"! Well read our lips and words...he straight murders and assasinates it here too, almost stealing the scenes he looks to save. There's more than eight wonders here and it all comes in classic, cinematic 70mm, six chapters and a Golden Globe and surely Oscar winning score from the legendary Ennio Morricone, for the perfect picture from the man that brought you the great gallery of 'Reservoir Dogs', 'Pulp Fiction', 'Jackie Brown', 'Kill Bill' volumes one and two, 'Inglorious Basterds' and 'Django Unchained' portraits. Quentin Tarantino completes his history trilogy in blood with his brothers. And between all the bullets and brains you'll be glad he had the mind over matter to not shelve this previously leaked script, because its classic, vintage and traditional Tarantino by the book, chapter by chapter. All the way to all the small things that if you blink you'll miss. Understand? How could you hate number eight? Now like each of his characters we can't wait to see Tarantino carry the nine. Soon we'll be able to see how this all fits into the top ten...his or that of all time. I count more than six shots. I count two of his of his best out West. Draw! TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Friday, 1 January 2016
The Blind Side.
122 Minutes. Starring: Will Smith, Alec Baldwin, Albert Brooks, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Luke Wilson & David Morse. Director: Peter Landesman.
Focus! Can you see clearly? Still to this day one of the worlds biggest movie stars, Will Smith and writer/director Peter Landesman have something to say and show you. Something Dr. Bennet Omalu has been trying to tell and prove to the game of American Football for yearning years. People are saying this is the film the NFL doesnt want you to see, but this is something that everyone with a gridiron rep and even every parent of every potential prodigy picking up the pigskin need to watch on any given day. Forget Sunday, even if the biggest sports franchise in the United States Of America and the rest of the watching world owns that day the church used to as this movie eloquently puts it. Subtely however, no matter how much you love the inspiration of 'Glory Road', or the science of 'Moneyball' and the 'Creed' of so many boxing bouts from 'Rocky' to 'Raging Bull', compared to this its no contest. 'Concussion' may just be the most important sports movie yet. The flash of the Prince Of Bel-Air is still fresh, but between running round with Down Under starlet of the future Margot Robbie in last years classy crime caper 'Focus' and this years caped crusader, epic villain ensemble, playing from the hip as Deadshot to her Harley Quinn in the 'Suicide Squad', Will with his Smith way is looking to really save the world once again with once the worlds biggest blockbuster actors resurgence, 'Independence Day' or not (we still believe...and thats no 'X-Files' reference). This is his 'Legend', his 'Pursuit' of something more and meaningful than a happiness typo. As unique and underrated as his formidable, flawless and fighting portrayal of the real 'Ali' which if I'm to be controversial has the belt above all those aformentioned above and any of his acclaimed acting. Sorry Denzel, but on that 'Training Day' he should have got the Oscar like Dey La Hoya. But now with another sports movie he's caddying for The Academy once again like he should have as 'Bagger Vance'. With 'Concussion' he delivers the biggest blow to critics who tried to write him off and erase him like the NFL this movie. Tell the truth.
And speak on it. Nuanced in all his niceties, Smith's perfect portyal of the gentle giant of pathology Dr. Omalu is so inspired an interpretation of an impression that the man who revolutioned how we look at CTE almost believes Will stole his soul as he captures all our hearts and minds with a willful, redemptive performance that is worth its weight of gold that could sit next to his hugely deserved rap grammy for the underrated, all-round entertainer. One who is a charisma force of nature, but yet shows beautiful restraint here (the West Philly kid who once gave his hometown Eagles an emphatic Superbowl video introduction births and raises a more dignified force and form of emphasis here) in bringing out that side of Bennet through the shadows of subtle shyness. Every mannerism, every mood rings true and we havent even talked about his accent yet which really is as authentic as it comes. You forget its Smith here, save the ears for an actor who even captures the emotional breaking points of a cool under pressure individual (you have to be to literally talk to the dead like this man has...or to receive threats as such from ignorant Sunday couch fans who dont know what this game is doing to their heroes) with an afforded, affable measure of brilliance. All with the diligence of the due resepct deserved by the sensitive nature of the subject at hand. I know people are talking about the theory of Eddie Redmayne doubling up as 'Best Actor' for 'The Danish Girl', or even 'The Revenant' of DiCaprio being robbed yet again...this time by the bear that mauled him. But in a calender of biopics that have seen the 'Black Mass' of Johnny Depp and Michael Fassbender's 'Jobs' show they are anything but coffee table reads, Will Smith clears it all and passes the bar...with honours for Bennet's. Even with the legendary likes of Matt Damon ('The Martian') and Tom Hanks ('Bridge Of Spies') turning in some of their best work of type to date. But speaking of actors it isnt just our leading man who makes 'Concussion' a best picture and more than just a head trauma warning, public information film with dramatic effect.
Touching on more than just touchdowns and time outs, the ever good Alec Baldwin is on fine form as a sympatheic team doctor with blows to his own conscience. Whilst in chamelonic disguise, Albert Brooks books in another reel to his latest formidable filmography run, completing this big-three of the science and the substance at hand in the background of a sport that hides more behind the initimidating grill of those helmets. The great Gugu Mbatha-Raw injects some much needed love into this bleak but hopeful picture that shows the heart of a genuine man ravaged by the injust hate phoned and mailed in out of the thin air of intimidation. And all because he was only trying to bring more aid to what should be more than a cause for concern, which is why in turn this Doctor has made the study of CTE his lifes work in actual reality. If you want to see what it all means and what this is all about than look no further than arguably the best work character actor David Morse has ever done. Stealing scenes as Pittsburgh all-American football hero Mike Webster, who after a legendary Hall Of Fame career, tragically lived out his last days, homeless in a pick-up under the cloud of concussive, crippling confusion amongst more that plauged his mind and led him to abuse drugs and his body before he died from all these cruel complications. Fitting aswell is the spare screen time Luke Wilson is given as the NFL commissioner. As good as it is and with the rumors of a critical cut scene due to landmark writer/director Landesman's uncertainty in asataining the truth the small time given to this big star and his pivotal character is an accidently apt methaphor of this whole tragic situation and the rumored pressure of the NFL in making this movie tone everything down. Trust the brain of the Sports Illustrated companion piece though because you really cant tell. One things for sure however even with the leagues involvement in this concussion issue more must be done on the field, even all the way to the canvas of boxing, which is a whole new issue. Whether it be regulation, age limit rules or even an outright ban. Something must be done before more big names or not, professional or otherwise become cautionary tales of tragedy. 'Concussion' may be the most important movie of the year, but the only thing more important than Dr. Omalu's groundbreaking work is the lives he is saving and the ones the NFL could too to make sure names like Mike Webster, Terry Long, Justin Strzelczyk, Andre Waters and countless more, many more we dont even know about...yet, live on and dont die in vain, all for the NFL'S enjoyment and dollars in the millions. To those who arent thinking clear when it comes to this straight forward issue, use your head...and have a heart for these poor souls. TIM DAVID HARVEY.