Tuesday, 31 May 2016
Empire Of The Son.
18 Episodes. Starring: Terrence Howard, Taraji P. Henson, Jussie Smollett, Bryshere Y. Gray, Trai Byers, Grace Gealey & Kaitlin Doubleday. Created By: Lee Daniels & Danny Strong.
What the hell is going on with 'Empire's' state of mind in this Part II? How many times have they hit their head on the concrete of this jungle? Lets break it down. Season One was insane crazy...but this is the asylum. And a series that starts off with the most fashionable icon in the record company, head honcho ownership business rocking the same orange he did the day before really isn't the new black. But the incarcerating nature of fellow Fox 'Wayward Pines' star Terrence Howard's caged Lyon character sees him locked up with more 'Hustle & Flow' reunions and the legend of a terrifying gangster that likes to Hannibal Lecter people, stepping off the prison bus that looks an awful lot like...Chris Rock?! What is this? 'The Longest Yard'?! No matter just how ludicrous this gets you know the hip-hop Kingpin Lucious will make his 'Daredevil' Punisher escape from the cells before the first mid-season break. This isn't 'Prison Break'...or is it? Besides coming home there's more for the Lyon to deal with outside of his pride. And we aren't just talking about his three sons making heads roll for their shot at his throne in this music game. There's more music, murder and madness. 'Madness' you say? Well...this.is.'Empire'. And between more backstabbing than Julius Ceasar (Et tu Jaamal?) and some 'Romeo & Julliett' like lover suicides this is Shakespeare gone beyond silly. All wrapped up in enough baby mama drama for the next Lyon cub fit for the thrones grand-lyons. That will all cliffhanger climax on what looks like Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty meets the Real Housewives of New Jersey. All this going on in this New York state of madness...but will Empires fall?
Ridiculous isn't even the word anymore. This is downright...erm someone pass me a Thesauras. 'Empire' isn't the urban 'Nashville' anymore...it's 'Dallas'. With everyone out for the Lyon kings head you half expect Lucious to wake up as his greasy prison cellmate walks out the shower with a bar of soap to find out this whole season had been one, crazy dream. But as out of it's idiotic mind as this series is...you can't help but be entertained by this rap gladiator. Even if sometimes it is a nightmare...you'll wake up thinking about just what's going to happen next in a world where lent ears are eaten with a side of fava beans and "lawyers" are literally called Thirsty. Yet it's all played perfectly with power and puncuation by the trademark intensity of Terrence Howard and the acclaimed actor who has been rumoured to be trouble to work with (we dont believe it) is causing problems for everybody here. He isn't this show and seasons catalyst...he's its gasoline. It's a good job the fire of Taraji P. Henson can match his crazy because another actress of the Academy playing it up for this staged show that demands its own bizarre run on Broadway is brilliant. More than a fan favourite or has tag trend Henson is a monster as cookie. She's a beast in every scene and boy is it beautiful. In matrimony with their music and madness these two are somewhere between Whitney and Bobby and Bey and Jay. Albeit whilst making champagne out of lemons...forget lemonade.
But next to that power couple with the plug hanging out the socket what about the big three? And we aren't talking about King James and his Cavalier men. We're talking about the sons of the sins of the father. Well Jussie Smollett still carries this show with his hit music made for the mainstream (seriously you could put a talent like this next to Ne-Yo...oh wait they already did) and his bold and beautiful stand for sexual rights and equality. Which in a discriminating world still so backwards in the race and in a show that too often plays up to negative stereotypes it remains the bravest and best thing 'Empire' has dealt with. That is next to anxiety aggravated, insecure inducing, heaven highs and languishing lows caused by the brutality of Bipolar disorders. Captured with rawness but respect from the terrific Trai Byers who remains the best actor on this show and the best portrayer of these enigmatic emotions outside the court of 'The People vs. O.J. Simpson's' Sterling K. Brown. Add a dynamo stick of dynamite in the dynamic Bryshere Y. Gray nearly losing his shirt as many times as his raps make you lose your s### than you have something for the record that's really going to spin. Especially when you add the likes of Trai Byers on screen wife Kaitlin Doubleday and his off screen one (congratulations) Grace Gealey to the cycle...or should we say cyclone. It almost looks like they're literally fighting over him. But there's a lot more at stake here. That's what you get when your guest stars include Chris Rock, Ludacris, Ne-Yo and even Alicia Keys and a pimped out Xzibit. Not to mention the likes of William Fitchner, Marisa Tomei and Naomi Campbell. All wrapped up in a top Timbaland track. 'Precious' creator Lee Daniels knows people and drama and that's what makes his 'Empire' so big as his ceasar wears the crown. The head may be heavy but you can't help but bow down. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Sunday, 29 May 2016
No Money, Mo' Problems.
98 Mins. Starring: George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Jack O'Connell & Dominic West. Director: Jodie Foster.
"Clooney! Clooney! Clooney....Cloooooney!" Please stand by! They say money makes the world go round, but in Hollywood it's more like celebrity. Big names! Top billers! And you get plenty for your buck in 'Money Monster'. George Clooney. Julia Roberts. Leading man. Leading woman. Even Jodie Foster behind the bullhorn as director. All these heavyweights and a chance for an 'Unbroken', 'Starred Up' newcomer in the form of Jack O'Connell to take his shot in this title and this 'Boiler Room' tension igniting film about money that never sleeps like Gekko's on 'Wall Street' really is a beast. Charging like a brass bull straight on to the set of the type of U.S. financial advice show of cartoon and candy consideration that former satirical 'Daily Show' host Jon Stewart took to critical deficit task. O'Connell wants to take aging host Clooney hostage after a bad tip leaves him not even able to scrape together a few quarters to leave one at the type of minimum wage job he pushes plates for. Fostering a great approach to the crooked side of the coin, Jodie gives us a movie that owes as much to the legendary likes of Al Pacino's bank hostage 'Dog Day Afternoon' and Hoffman and Travolta's 'Mad City' gone news cycle, cyclone weather changing crazy before the age of social media, to the blue against green force of New York's biting Big Apple in '16 Blocks' and the Spike Lee 'Inside Man' film she starred in alongside Denzel Washington. Banking on this the woman who last made Manhattan her own in the revenge soaked 'The Brave One' really affords more here in this dollars and tense tale that shows you crime no longer pays. At least not in singles.
That's because in his 'Oceans Eleven' reunion with Julia Roberts, George Clooney may just be one man but he represents so much more as he plays us all. From the mainstream media to the governing bailouts, Clooney's character is a colossal coupling of every corrupt faction trying to cheat us out of our change. But is he the villain here? Like 'The Affair' star Dominic Cooper, a long transfer away from 'The Wire' as a cheating fat cat dressed in GQ clothing. Who offers us in this Vine age the funniest moment in a movie just as satirical as it is fanitical. Or is George "just" a T.V. spin doctor so spun around and twisted he doesn't even believe in the s### he's selling anymore? As he dons a dollar sign top hat and gold chain, flanked by two bikinis like he was a bad interpretation of Flavour Flav at a Halloween party? Scary huh? Yet this Public Enemy trying to appeal to the potatoes of every household has a moral code, core and conduct....he's just buried it in Scrooge McDuck pools of revenue, Tom Ford suits and a sheen of hair laquer to smell out the real sense of money. And the fact that he's not selling...he's shilling. Still fitting the bill perfectly like Franklin this by George is Clooney's best in years. The closest thing we have this era to Cary Grant, albeit born in the wrong time where we now have the likes of Buble (no disrespect Michael) instead of Sinatra, Clooney is classic. After assembling some old 'Monuments Men' like the Ocean he is for World War 2, to heading to the future in 'Tomorrowland', George can still move with the times. But put this next to his 'Hail Ceasar' Cohen reunion in Roman Regalia and oh brother the actor/director is back for the first time since he had to find depth 100 miles high 'Up In The Air' or with 'The Descendants' in Hawaii.
After what seems like a 'Eat, Pray, Love' Vatican vacation from screens, still 'Pretty Woman' and so much 'Erin Brokovich' more Julia Roberts is back too like she or classic, original, no need for special effects, tense thrillers more exciting than action blockbusters like this never left theatres. She's been around over the years and keeping up with the stars and elephants in the room like Tom Hanks in 'Larry Crowne' and Meryl Streep in 'August: Osage County'. But now with this exclusive company and the forthcoming Aniston/Hudson/Whitehall? 'Mothers Day' ensemble from the same people that gave you the first class leg-room of her sitting next to Bradley Cooper on a plane in 'Valentines Day', you'll want her in her own leading picture. As she mans the studios production console with a courage under fire (wrong film Jodie Foster...that was Meg Ryan) like 'Pelican' co-star Denzel did for the taking of New York in 'Pelham', she has found her seat again even if her contemporary has the chair. Three..two...one, she's back! Action! And that comes by the gun of Jack O'Connell whose a red raged, dynamite furious fuse that represents this millennial generation that cares and their aggravated, assaulting anger and anxiety in a world where they'll try and hit the lotto, whether scratch card or stock tip just so they can barely tread water...instead of drown in its desperation. You can just hear the accented vulnerability in his voice. Actress turned 'Unbroken' director Angelina Jolie saw it and now Jodie Foster does in making the chameleonic actor more than just a broken man, but the shards of that infamous shattered plate on 'Breaking Bad', trying to be put back together in vainful hope that there's not a piece missing. Assemble and put this all together and you have a movie from 'The Silence Of The Lambs' star that is more than just a 90's nostalgic Hollywood big-three thanks to a Jack out the box who would sooner reach for something else than a volume up, dumbed down television remote to make sense of this world we dwell in today. And that something isn't a gun, or a buck, but a difference. And that's real change in this world whose greenery is now too much measured in money. Clooney, Roberts, Foster...O'Connell...now that's the making of a monster! TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Wednesday, 25 May 2016
144 Minutes. Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Oscar Isaac, Rose Byrne, Olivia Munn, Nicholas Hoult, Evan Peters, Lucas Till, Tye Sheridan, Sophie Turner, Alexandra Shipp, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Ben Hardy, Lana Condor, Josh Helman & Hugh Jackman. Director: Bryan Singer.
Now class, here's how the mutants of the Marvel 'X-Men' franchise have shape-shifted through timeline after time until todays 'Apocalypse'. It really is a confusing case of plot strands and themes from the contradictory clock of the 'Days Of Future Past'. Get your red rope ready and we aren't talking liquorice, even if this movie is set in the Bacon 'Footloose' meets Marty McFly time of the vintage 80's animated homage. We really are going 'Back To The Future' without Kitty Pryde again. The last classic X film based on a comic just as timeless was always going to be a hard act to follow in the third stage. But look at all that came before it in this Academy of gifted sequels. After the original, outstanding 'X-Men' starring Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellen, the 'X2' sequel superbly surpassed that and any notion of a sophomore slump, dual director Bryan Singer became a filmaker of great praise. So much so that he was lured away by D.C. to make a criminally underrated 'Superman Returns' with the Reeve homaging Brandon Routh fly. This left his trilogy with Brett Ratner and 'The Last Stand' turned out to be a Bay spectacle on the Golden Gate Bridge that didn't really have the legs, or Dark Phoenix Saga wings despite the formidable Famke Janssen as Jean Grey. Then sliced and diced from those ashes rose the fun but fumbled 'Origins' of a 'Wolverine' solo outing that at least lead to a wondeful sequel as Hugh Jackman took Logans run to the Canadian's comic re-birthplace in Tokyo, Japan and Ryan Reynolds 'Deadpool' character that made for the only superhero movie this year that could even have the nice pair of smooth criminals to go to battle with 'Captain America's' 'Civil War' with Iron Man and almost the rest of the Avengers (sorry 'Batman v Superman'), breaking the fourth wall and the balls of all the mistakes made before. Singer also returned to his own 'First Class' origins to rewrite the songsheet, replacing Picard and Gandalf with McAvoy and Fassbender before bringing them all together for his peak 'Days Of Future Past' that now has lead to this 'Apocalypse' conclusion of the trilogy he should have always wanted. Confused?
We wouldn't blame you. Because this really is an Apocalypse. One that now in hindsight should have probably waited. Just a little bit. More 'Apocalypse Wow' in an Owen Wilson voice than a James Brown one this is messy but oh what a one it is. A comic carnage that is Burgundy classy...but nowhere near 'First Class'. This Clash of the Titans war of Gods and mutants is nothing 'Civil'. It's not even better than the 'Dawn Of Justice' but then again that critical crucified epic was cruelly underrated. As middling as that Justice League set-up and with the big hits from 'Deadpool' and 'Captain America' it's all on the 'Suicide Squad' and Steven Strange film now. It's not that this film is bad, but perhaps his hat tip to his own full trifecta's funny, Wade Wilson like meta diss to "third parts always being the worst", wrapped up in a 'Star Wars' Easter Egg as funny as Spidey's Empire strikes down Giant-Man, plays as much like an omen as it does a 'Last Stand' skeleton in the closet demon of futures past. Two franchise family trilogies. One breakthrough, brilliant movie, a superior sequel and then a final curtain that should have been called early. I guess the more things change the more they stay the same. There's a lot of amazing action and stunning set-pieces and even some story in this stakes raised epic that 'Stargate' starts itself in Egypt...but maybe they are raised a little too high. The bar isn't exactly cleared but dove into head first...when the finesse of Fosbury would have been preferred in this rushed race to the gold. This is by no means a flop...but it's far from the force it should have been in this war of the stars. It's time someone awoke the costume department. Because which crew member with 'Power Rangers' on his purple resume dressed Oscar Isaac? Because the Academy Award worthy actor won't be winning any Oscars for his name here thanks to his ridiculous get up. Coming off science fiction greats like 'Ex Machina' and some 'Star Wars' movie he piloted, going Rogue in this 'X-Men' cut the Pacino looking chameleon actor certainly looks different here. But at least his classic voiced villian dialogue delivery and always amazing acting saves his character and this comic adaptation from being completely mumified by sarcophagus costume and snowballing into Steve Rogers incased ice like a pyramid scheme gone Brendan Fraser sequel bad.
All you need to see is the Apocalypse mutant morphing ten times as big as Professor Xavier's Ant-Man looking "Charrrles" and lieing over him whilst saying "I'm still inside you Charles" to believe there's something dodgy going on here. James McAvoy really went bald for this? You can see how much he likes this on the films poster. At least he and Fassbender keep their acting game far from the spotty squares of checkers...but oh how we'd love to see one more game of chess...no matter how long its been. Their Malcolm X/Martin Luther King peace vs violent methods of protest where a definitive dualtity dynamic that now seems junior to everything else. Although Michael keeps Magneto's mettle strong thanks to some family ties that finally wrap up the Scarlett Witch rights crossover to Marvel Studios own enigmatic Elizabeth Olsen like 'Age Of Ultron' did her silver haired slick brother. And how about Evan Peters' rockier and cooler Quicksilver stealing the show yet again in a bullet time soundtrack sweeping splurge that throws the whole house at his 'D.O.F.P.' kitchen sink debut? He even speeds past the Academy of 'Hunger Games' franchise face Jennifer Lawrence's Mystique. Although Raven still flies. Even next to 'Game Of Thrones' star Sophie Turner, hotter than the sun starting her own Phoenix saga as Jean Grey. Headlining a list of newcomers including a big three of Ben Hardy's Angel taking new wing from Ben Foster, Alexandra Shipp's Storm being even truer to the comic forecast than Halle Berry's weather and an outstanding Olivia Munn as a wonder woman, neon whip magical Psychlocke. Concluding Apocalypse's Four Horseman charged by Magneto's war in the form of pestilence famine and death...some themes that could really be metaphors here. Still, the newcomers that really make the grade are two gifted youngsters come of age at just 19 years old each. Teenagers still not in their twenties, the terrific Tye Sheridan famous for 'The Tree Of Life' and 'Mud' and kinetic Kodi Smit-Mcphee of 'The Road' and 'Slow West' (partnering up with Michael Fassbender) are electric, morphing scene stealers as the iconic Cyclops and Nightcrawler respectively. Highlighting a new class of freshmen (including even the Jubilee of Lana Condor for all you animated series aficinados) with their lockers next to the seniors like the brotherhood of Lucas Till wreaking real Havok and Nicholas Hoult unleashing some Beast for a fur exchange in this act balanced better than you'd review reading think. Even an amnesiac Rose Byrne is back with the C.I.A. (did you forget?), like Josh Helman's striking, commanding character is back with the military. And of course there's one cameo that will leave all you bubs bubbling even if it has been spoiled by too much trailer and internet reveal. And we aint talking about Stan Lee although he has his most touching, trademark appearance yet. Still..if you don't know what we mean it's classic...we can't tell you about it, but it does rhyme with 'Polverine'! There's even an even bigger Easter Blob for all you egg head geeks but why is Channing Tatum's Gambit not on deck again? Not even a face card, Joker like hint of a reveal. I guess he's been cut again. Just like great new characters like Blink who are missing. Just another minor problem too many that stacks up to 'Apocalypse' being a major dissapointment that an epic like this was always going to be if it wasn't the best blockbuster of the year. But next to 'Civil War' how could anything else be? A good cast at least keeps this broken leg together. But the bones of this should have been made with adamantium. Apocalypse Ow! TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Monday, 9 May 2016
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
Withdrawn. 'Gone Dark' as the military would categorize it. This soldier is solemnly that. Wearing the bleakness of Winter like the army boots he straps on and the leather jacket he throws on across the bones of an iconic black t-shirt. His hair slicked to offset the stuble that has long seen the shadow of five o'clock. His fingerless gloves reach for a photo above the fireplace. It's almost unrecognisably him, wearing a freshly shaved smile we now can't see beneath the frown next to a wife and kid...but in this empty living room it's been a long time since this frame. He hesitates for a second like he doesn't want to disturb it's place of peace but then punches the glass and almost rips the perfect picture from the shards. He drops the Costco gold frame like it was nothing and dusts off the picture to get a good look of it again before stuffing it in his jacket pocket and turning away from the whole scene like he's never going to look back again. Focussing on the task at hand he starts packing his black bag with heavy weights. One batch. Two batch. Penny and dime. It may aswell be lead because this mans packing like artillery. Like he was bringing a blunderbuss. Leaving home with only a dark loneliness riding shotgun he opens the door, closes it and looks up to a black sky...no sun. He pulls his sleeve back to reveal his watch. It reads 0.00. Military precision. He begins his march. His long walk from home. His pilgramage to Hells Kitchen, New York City. Taking no Subway. Only the iron punishment on his back and the weighing down expectations of all the people. All the die-hards and men of service. All the people that know his face beneath the flesh. All the people that recognise this solitary figure walking across the iconic Brooklyn Bridge in the mid-nite hour that in this shadowy sense looks just as lonely as he does. He looks like the the type of guy you just don't want to mess with. Let alone say something to or at least catch his eye. But they keep shouting at him. Calling after him. He can't quite make out what they're saying, he's so gone but then he really listens. "Don't f### this up"!
When Jon Bernthal filmed the classic, war torn, claustraphobic, tense tank drama 'Fury' with Brad Pitt, Shia LaBouef, Michael Pena and Logan Lerman he really was furious. Really f###### furious. Why?! Because not only did he miss the birth of his child, filming meant he wasn't allowed to even see his newborn at all. That's why! He didn't meet his kid until he was around 8 months old. 8 MONTHS OLD! That would break most men. But not Jon. At least not all the way. Bernthal's just aren't most men. Jon Bernthal took all that frustration, anger and pain and raged and raged, throwing it into his work and role. Putting it all into his dirty, scruffy, toothless, spitting, egg licking cruel character that God damned still had heart beneath that bruised, no beaten, no blitzed soul. Bernthal alongside a perfect Pitt, puncuated Pena, sheer sensational Shia and a coming of age Logan, perfectly captured the effects not only war, but the confides of a submerged tank shared with four other men with nothing but murder and madness on their minds. Mentally as uncomfortable as their physical surroundings this cabin fever war zone may aswell have been leagues under the sea it was so far from the light. But still in these dark times Jon still shone. War ready and trained in the trenches of mud and blood warfare no wonder he was ready for the Marvel ranks of Netflix's 'Daredevil' season 2. Even showing (face to face) Vincent D'Onofrio's Fisk character that Frank Castle really was king to the skull and cross bones. Playing the iconic Punisher to puncuated power of emotional backstory and reason of dark depth like Thomas Jane and even all action hero Dolph Lungren couldn't before him. Making Season 2 of The Man Without Fear even better than the brilliant blockbuster, best Marvel movie of all-time that is the latest Captain America movie vs Iron Man and every other Avenger not called Thor and Banner in his 'Civil War' with Matt Murdock. Law and disorder. Vigilante justice versus violent sentancing. Or as he puts it perfectly, "you hit them and they get back up...I hit them and they STAY down"!
Leonardo DiCaprio looks down the table of a boiler room hot, Summer of the 80's, New York diner at all the Gorden Gekko wannabes dressed in stock high braces and horn rimmed, balance sheet focussing, buttermilk glasses. The wolves would eat these Wall Street kids alive. He pulls a pen out of his sports coat jacket pocket and begins to survey his crowd of disciples at their first meal of steak and red basket mozzarella sticks. He sums them all up like he's drawing a line under them or through them. One kind of looks like that best friend from 'My Name Is Earl'...does he make the list? Then there's an American-Korean man that looks kind of like he'll end up presiding over a big, televised case like 'The People vs O.J. Simpson. The jury is still out on him. And hey is that one kid with the curls and rolls Jonah Hill? You know? From 'Moneyball'. 'MONEY'-ball. Surely he's here to make his bread and butter. "Sell me this pen" the Academy Award acclaimed, Oscar winning actor DiCaprio declares. Holding the biro like he was handing over the sword of Excaliber or the hammer of Thor. "Sell me this pen" he asks again. Reading the table everyone looks confused like they have no idea what he's getting at, or what to do. Just like they have no idea how of the lude debauchery they are about to let themselves in for. One man though, wife beater, jacked up on protein and cocaine, handling a mafioso moustache like the bar that's being tabbed has a different look on his face. It's almost angrily impatient. Like can we move on to the main course I get the appetizer already. He takes the pen off Leo and gives it a once over twirling it around its circumfrence. DiCaprio beams with wanting anticipation like he's hoping to be on the cusp of witnessing some genuine magic. "Write your number down" the slicked hair and tanned, gym rat muscle that looks more ready for Florida than finance demands. "But I don't have a pen" Leo's Jordan Belfort replies in almost mock, pantomining role play. "BOOM"! "Supply and demand", Jon Bernthal declares as he trash tosses the pen back at 'The Wolf Of Wall Street' like what he did was nothing...and not simply genius. Oh and this scene stealing moment in the gold statue nominated look at the wild, criminal, x-rated side of stockbroking from Scorcese, that featured a chest thumping Matthew McConaughey cameo in his Oscar stealing 'Best Actor' year was that much more special because of one underlining reason for Marty's slick script. It was purely improvised by Bernthal. Hmm, hmm!
Why is he doing this? Because he's no half measure. Because he isn't afraid to get the job done. Because he's no coward. Here's one thing you can't see. Even on one of his bad days they aren't even close to being he. He, Jon Bernthal is one of the best in the game. If DiCaprio is the greatest actor of our generation...and Oscar Isaac the next great. Then Jon Bernthal is the best method actor out there. Whether killing it on the small screen, running with the likes of the undead 'Walking Dead' to striking fear into leading men by being one of the best supporting players when Shane hits the silver screen...far from just another character actor with all due respect to those underrated legends. He can change it up all on a dime flip! Whether breaking out the scruffy hair, unkempt suit and Kurt Rambis bifocals for the 80's Sprinsgteen soundtrack themed 'Show Me A Hero', HBO, Oscar Issac Emmy winning project. Or housing with De Niro to look exactly like his son in the 'Raging Bull'/'Rocky' boxing 'Grudge Match' with Sly Stallone. From red to blue corners Bernthal has the creed to play characters both fighting strong and on the ropes...imagine if they remade another Scorsese big score?! Bernthal has even somewhat channeled De Niro's Al Capone for a 'Smithsonian' exhibit of a 'Night At The Museum' sequel cameo. Proving that this star is fondly funny in parody but also untouchable when it comes to surprise small roles. Just see how he doesn't let up, from the neck crushing, Blunt cameo in one of last years best, 'Sicario', to the man that started his career with bit roles in the likes of 'Law and Order' and 'CSI: Miami'. Earning more battle born stripes in the battalion of 'The Pacific' and even the 'Modern Warfare' of Kevin Spacey, video game acting responding to the 'Call Of Duty'. The kind of ex-military experience that is crucial to break down the walls of Castle. And to be Frank, Jon knows what it takes and means to be this armed character as many members of the forces have died wearing the iconic skull logo that even transcends comic books. The man that has read up on his coral though is cocked with action and loaded with emotion in the most passionate Punisher yet in "Daredevil's' second series. From the first Terminator bootsteps walking through the wards of a hospital that's about to have more patients, to a breaking prison fight escape, shank redemption that's about to leave a few vacant cells for a lot of inmates. And the sheer drilled down torture to the real love is hell, bar booth debate over another cup of bad coffee it all goes round like a 'Face/Off' tragic carousel. But even for all the machine gun funk this hells leather anti-hero fires, it's the shots he spits in argument with 'Daredevil' chained to a lonesome rooftop and ideas of court versus street justice that hit harder than any bullet. According to us its a blurred sides debate even more divisive than the accords. And forget 'Batman v Superman' this is a real fight in this dawn of injustice among us. Now if you can't take the moral of this meaning as red, then just wait until the devil horned hero takes our chamber and trigger man to a tombstone to explain the meaning behind "one batch, two batch, penny and dime". No eyes dry. No wonder Marvel have given the go ahead for the Punisher to have his own Netflix series out of the cage with fistful of iron. Did you really think Bernthal's burner was going to chill? Check the clip. There's another round in the scope. BANG!
Saturday, 7 May 2016
92 Mins. Starring: Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, Rose Bryne, Chloe Grace Moretz, Dave Franco & Selena Gomez. Director: Nicholas Stoller.
Next door but one. Unless you live in a cabin in the woods or a mansion on the hill then we all have 'Neighbors'. And look over your lawn with disapproval all you want but everyone needs 'Bad Neighbors 2'. And this time its the 'Sorority Rising' with a bunch of girls gone wild, spring breakers in need of a James Franco...or at least his younger brother Dave to 'rise' to the occasion again. But never fear he's here again in a nostalgic role call of classic cameos, from Hannibal Buress under arrest, beat cop, to a jacked up Christopher Mintz-Plasse in this new generations 'Superbad', looking like he's been McLovin the weight room. With everyones favourite 'Friends' star Lisa Kudrow to another surprise star from a fellow 90's sitcom sensation. But more of a surprise than Franco et al's "hey it's me" appearances is his character turn that leaves this usually balls out gross comedy with its second moral message that is just as heartwarming as it is important. Yep...that's right the same comedy franchise that now joins the 'Waynes World' ranks of having dual hits (excellent!), that featured Franco "boning up" on demand rises above it all. Showing and proving that this guilt-less pleasure post-teen spirit of beer pong and red cups has more than wood.
Borrowing one more cup of sugar, next door to their original classic, our 'Neighbors' Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne just can't catch a break...or a nights sleep. Even in escrow. But this will leave you laughing for 30 days straight like these kids like to party...WOW that sounded old didn't it?! Zac Efron's Frat Pack may be gone, but this address is still marked with Greek letters as there is a sorority on the rise and these girls led by the 'Kick Ass' Chloe Grace-Moretz (who used the 'C' word before her sweet sixteenth birthday) are anything but 'High School Musical'...think more like the last time we saw Selena Gomez (in a cool cameo here herself) on screen alongside Vanessa Hudgens. Now our favourite stoner and band t-shit family that have gone from Cypress Hill to Matchbox (they wish they were still) Twenty, forming a neighborhood alliance with a former "frenemy" have a month to stop the chug, chug and weed cookouts from smoking them out and losing their house...again. Sure it's the same cocktail...but with a whole new chaser. Besides everyone loves their drink of choice...especially with a twist. And this perfect premise with plenty more potential and promise results in more classic comedy from the spark and spunk of 'Forgetting Sarah Marshall'/'Get Him To The Greek' double act director 'Nicholas Stoller. From the classic character conflict one man and up(wo)manship (and airbags...oh so many more airbags), to the poster parody of the biggest film of the year Marvel's 'Captain America-Civil War' that it's about to trade hands with. But whose side are you on?
Choose Seth Rogen! Forget Steve Rogers! Forget the Ferrell Frat Pack this is the new King Of Comedy that has been ruling the side of the box office that tickles ribs since way before the original animal frat house comedy. This is far from the end. The man who even managed to air the most controversial 'Interview' like a comedic Frost/Nixon won't stop "pass it, pass it" laughing his way to the highest spot. He even knows how to bring the good tidings with last years 'The Night Before' Chistmas comedy that even offended Christ and he's about to give Pixar a run for their family friendly Pixels with a 'Sausage Party' for all the weeners. Thankfully it's not just a schnitzel fest here, but Rogen is still the star on peak form, never receding like Rogaine. Alongside his wonderful wife played by the blooming Rose Byrne, who with this and a 'First Class' return to the 'X-Men' franchise series looks to be ruling the Summer box office and trailer roll once again like when she was a 'Bridesmaid'. But here facing a pack of little women more lethal than a bunch of Bridezillas the Australian faces a real Apocalypse. They're going to need a bigger steamboat partier and who better than Zac Efron? The protein packed pretty boy turned Channing Tatum good has had a lot to deal with from meatier roles ('The Paperboy' with McConaughey and...erm the forthcoming 'Baywatch' reboot with The Rock...the only man to make young Zac look like a piece of flint (I mean have you seen the 'Fast and Furious' films? He even makes Vin Diesel look like a pebble)), to Robert De Niro's crude and crass 'Bad (but oh so good) Grandpa' but he's still willing to vault over a barbecue in his speedos with a sack of skunk. I wonder if Bobby talked to you about that impression party from the first film Zac?! Either way you've never left our circle of trust. Still a sequel always needs more in character and concept and the perfect catalyst for this comedy and conflict is the always dynamite Chloe Grace Moretz on best newcomer franchise form. The fun fuse of her young years burning in effervescent energy before our eyes. The 'Kick Ass' comic book face trading card has grown up a lot from the dark bruised soul of the 'Taxi Driver' esque support in 'The Equalizer' to the sum of more than just some college comedy here. Behind the big numbers made here behind the countless gags is actually a film that has a message of feminism delivered like a punch, not slap in the face for anyone who thought they were going to receive this as casually as a phoned in tweet text. Tag that! This film has a lot to say about young women and their freedom beyond the control of old people world, fossilized social constraints and much more worse controlling pressures. Coming of age it's about damn time. And that rising stand Neighbors is everything but bad. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Tuesday, 3 May 2016
101 Minutes. Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Naomie Watts, Judah Lewis & Chris Cooper. Director: Jean-Marc Vallee.
Love breaks! Apparantly everything in this picture. The windows! The walls! The bedside table were all those wedding photos used to be. The kitchen sink! Pop megastar Taylor Swift once wrote 'We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together' about Jake Gyllenhaal...before he became her blank space...apparantly. Well now it's time for Jake to get his 'Wrecking Ball' on like Miley Cyrus (but this time with a bulldozer brought on eBay), really breaking things up. But this time in this movie...it's not an actual break up to put a label on it. To be blunt like Emily, more like a car crash that leaves his wife dead and him without a scratch, but an odd penchant to scrawl down letters more of contemplate than complaint to a vending machine company as he finds his grief caught in one of those metal spirals...and he's not about to buy into anything else to help it come down. B2...his battleship is sunk! That's one way to deal with it. Another is to take apart stuff, see what's there and what you're really made of before you can put it all back together. Or you could just break said stuff. Break it all apart. Smash...no sledgehammer the s### out of it! Because loves great tragedy may have been a forced separation, but it's becoming clear our subject was divorced from his muse wife quite some years into the marriage. Now it really is time to break away as it all comes crumbling down. And there you have 'Demolition'.
BANG! Providing our demolition man Jake with all the tools to work with under deconstruction is demolition expert...or should we say director, Jean-Marc Vallee. As Gyllenhaal buys into the Best Actor and Supporting one Oscar winning 'Dallas Buyers Club' director who turned Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto into the new Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington in a raw, modern day 'Philadelphia', he runs with him through the heart of New York City. From the Freedom Tower to the Springsteen boardwalk heart of Coney Island looking like Asbury Park...real freedom a million Tribeca miles away from the Financial District. Jean-Marc took Reese Witherspoon into the woods. Here he goes 'Wild' with Jake in the concrete jungle, dancing like made dreams to walkman songs like nobodies watching. And it's N.Y.C they're not. Like a sandwich board on the streets said today, 'they're all on their iPhones'...you're on Instagram right?! Millenial generations favourite most liked, Jake Gyllenaal is actually a DiCaprio best actor. He's already made his name and cult legend in the rabbit hole 'Donnie Darko' and the at it like one 'Brokeback Mountain'. But lately, ever since the loneliness arresting, beat down cop he played in 'Prisoners' he's been on a rip roaring tear. From the skin-crawling skinny on psychosis in 'Nightcrawler' to the "BAMF', like smoke, change of direction in the muscle bound, no fat, jacked up 'Southpaw', left hook knockout. And we haven't even begun to talk about other heavy hitters in respective corners like 'Source Code' and 'End Of Watch'. Here with arms length coping strategies, even if some of the contrived cliches are less than Jake, Gyllenhaal grieves with grounded gravity. Just like the conflicting coin sides of character he played in the dynamic double act of 'Enemy' and all its twin ambition, Jake's Davis character is inwardly introspective in trying to find an emotion and purely physical in trying to be more vocal. Sometimes it's O.K. not to talk...or cry. As long as it's no lie. And with an honesty missing in this world (one layered in more missing beauty than boundless brutality today), Gyllenhaal is the truth.
And sometimes that hurts Jack! And boy are there plenty of hurt people in this offbeat drama that only makes divine comedy when tragedy is dark there too. Nobody seems to be as hurting as much as more than character acting legend Chris Cooper, just like when Marvel killed off his Green Goblin, Norman Osborne character early in 'The Amazing Spider-Man 2', only to put his head in a box on ice and in the end not even take it off the shelf. Cooper, who is always acclaimed but here is at his best firing range since he was an employee for 'The Company Men', is a boss stricken and strung out over more than accounts. How can you measure this? He doesn't play a widow. Nor an orphan. As he puts it quite right there isn't a name for what his father without a daughter is...and there really shouldn't be. Portraying the pain of a parent surviving their own child, Chris Cooper is a counsel of catharsis for anyone who comes close. Because with raw respect and unique understanding this actor breathes this role like ashes to dust. To the letter Naomie Watts also energizes this picture even from a place of morose musings, rather than a straight beacon of light. But oh how she shines as a pen pal come no catfish interest of inspiration for our widowed leading man. At her peak here the woman who has played everyone from Princess Diana to the love interest King Kong would climb the Empire State Building for, is the perfect recepitent to Jake's 'Dear Jane' letters that are rooted in just the simple joy and need of companionship than love. Still how about the son? Because Judah Lewis has already read his fair share of scripts, but the kid should have an 'introducing' next to his name here for extra credit...because young Lewis is really showing the world what he's made of. Judah like a lion in lepoard skin suit jackets roars like a young rock star with Jagger swagger. Playing confusion and acceptance with as much wiser than adulting grace as angst like teen spirit. Go forth son, take that baseball bat and knock it out the park. Because like Jake you can swing big and miss big, but one day you'll be up and it'll be your time to hit. It's just another methaphor that life and this movie is full of like ups and downs. After all that's struck out here we are naturally left with a lot of debris in the fallout. But oh what a mess! TIM DAVID HARVEY.