Thursday, 29 December 2016
97 Mins. Starring: Will Smith, Edward Norton, Keira Knightley, Michael Pena, Naomie Harris, Jacob Latimore, Kate Winslet & Helen Mirren. Director: David Frankel.
'Collateral', the taxi cab confides, claustraphobic classic starring Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx remains one of this writers all-time favourite films, more than a decade after the modern great was first released. 'Collateral Beauty' starring both leads very good friend Will Smith, on the other hand is a lot like if you watched 'American Beauty', but then found a thorn in one of those roses. I don't mean to sound like a prick, but this collateral damage is more ugly than it is a bright lights role call of some of the biggest names in Hollywood. This many All-Stars haven't been wasted since an old and past their best Jordan or Kobe farewell retirement game. Names like Smith, Norton, Knightley, Harris, Winslet, Mirren and especially rookie of the year Latimore are nowhere near their leading light expiration date. But here 'The Devil Wears Prada' director David Frankel shows us that Satan also rocks around the Christmas tree in a Santa hat. Because if it hasn't felt like Christmas this year, now its past this ghost won't offer you any good tidings to make you feel like it is any more so. No wonder this movie was boxed up a day after December 25th. Last Christmas was only a few sleeps ago but it really was a dark one. We lost George Michael. Our Princess Carrie Fisher the very next day. And now just when we thought we were done with the tears. This collateral hit, St Nick beard disguised as special schmaltz hits us right were it hurts. But this isn't one for sorrow, or for that matter tears of joy. More like ones of anger. What looked like another 'Christmas Carol' cliche, that was tis the welcome season for (especially after the year of death, Trump and Brexit), turns out to be something just as confused and contrived as this cruel calender. 'It's A Wonderful Life' this is not.
Boxing Day Will Smith films are usually the ticket that lead to long and winding lines out the theatre doors. But with this one you may need an air stewardess to help you find the nearest exit. He was legend (and still is...I mean who else has the greatest in the world charisma to portray and play 'Ali'?)...but then again that was ten years ago in 2007. Movies with this Fresh Prince trying to be Hollywood's king without going stale set in New York used to light up this city like Times Square on New Years. Remember 'Hitch'? That date doctor really was the perfect prescription the audience ordered to rise the Empire State up like it's most world famous building. And sure this winters tale really does focus in the best time of year for a city so festive they named it twice, but after a year of important, inspired biographies by the book and Deadshot comic adaptations on the comeback trail, Will seems to have lost his way a bit. Like if he had said yes to the regurgitation of his 'Independence Day' franchise this Summer for his big screen return. Sure this Hollywood squad assemble isn't career suicide...but it's definitly a concussion. Even if Mr. Smith who once passed up on 'The Matrix' (and 'Django Unchained' speaking of Foxx), is A-game accented, incredible in every inspired scene he emotes with his raw, restrained passion crippled under a fathers love ravaged by tragedy and the charity of cheap sentiments that offer no substance to a man looking for nothing in all his grief here. Just like he's trying to keep hold of Oscar gold, whilst everything else is just brass. He's the most tasteful, expensive decorations, on a tacky, plastic tree. But all these paint by numbers, script building blocks and cliched parts don't even slot together. God help the team behind this if they ever have to put and Ikea chest of draws together. What on the trailer surface looks like a bereaved man writing letters to love, death and time, reaching out to the cosmos, only to be visited by three angelic representations of them straight out of 'A Christmas Carol' lawsuit of 'It's A Wonderful Life' counter arguments actually turns out to be the most cruelly contrived manipulation of a mans emotions and mental state, no matter the intention. A man who lost his daughter for Christs sake. And all for what? Friendship or company? Money or something richer? We won't completely ruin this like we did when we rode 'Passengers' in our last review (our bad...we're sorry! But who gets lost in space waking up almost a century too early and then wakes someone else up to the same rude awakening fate just because their a hot blonde whose jokes are only funny...because well they're Jennifer Lawrence (cheat sheet...you don't have to fake laugh when she's not actually there)...yeah it's not been the best week for movies), but the gaslighting winner of the biggest, humanity devoid film of the week that really just shows how bad and morally corrupt this world and our social life trending today really is is this turkey (at least 'Passengers' buckled a cautionary tale amongst it's horror hull of the ultimate modern day partner choosing stalking) and all the Hollywood trimmings can't save it.
When everything here is this manipulating who needs friends or films like these? Because apart from Will if you took out most of the big names and their low characters out of this one and kept the theme strictly to the trailer that was sold to us (ah hem 'Passengers') and away from tired twists (even if two (TWO?), sweet relief late ones would almost save this clusterf### of a starry night if they didn't look like an 11th hour rushed and messy rewrite), we'd have the guilty pleasure our innocent, naive buzz fed minds hoped for with all it's on pitch paper conviction. But the trouble is we don't have that or this. Even if it tries to turn everything all around. The needle is gone on this moral compass and everything else just looks lost like a mess that doesn't make any damn sense. Miss Moneypenny Brit, Naomie Harris who has being doing the Hollywood rounds since she was Jamie Foxx's girlfriend in 'Miami Vice' is great and newcomer singer Jacob Latimore who made the festive 'Black Nativity' hip-hopera really sing deserves his moment. But some of our Academy Award winners won't be receiving Oscar nomination envelopes through their doors this New Year. Although they play it as best they can Helen Mirren's death warmed up character seems muddled and Keira Knightley's love is like a first date in need of that emergency intervening phone call from your best friend halfway through dinner. Everything is not O.K. when someone as good as Kate Winslet has to phone it in and a calling on everything he has Michael Pena can't ring true. And the less said about or by the character wrote for Edward Norton the better. After one deplorable moment he concludes in confession, "I need a drink"! But buddy I loved you as the Hulk but you need a lot more than that. He tries to put on the charm, but ends up looking like a snake as these "friends" and co-workers look more like they're drilling for oil than getting to the core of their boss and "brothers" condition. The only bright light on this night that should have stayed silent, Will Smith even finds a way to make his corny and pretentious opening line of "what is your why" make and work more sense than it's trying to provoke by looking superior. The rest of this cast can't even bring meaning to the word...let alone their own definition. There's a good film in here but it's drowned under more b.s. than there is big stars. There's a moment in this movie were Will Smith lacking in faith says, "there's no such thing as Collateral Beauty". In this case we kind of think if only that were true. And in another instance, shortly after the above picture of what looks like Helen Mirren handing him his lines was taken, Will Smith tells the G.B. national treasure playing the granny reaper sharply, "I don't want this"...yep! Because although we wouldn't rather be dead, we don't love this and we just wish we could get our time back. Where's a Murray Christmas when you need one? We've all been scrooged! TIM DAVID HARVEY.
See This If You Liked: 'It's A Wonderful Life', 'A Christmas Carol', 'Seven Pounds'.
Hunger Games Of The Galaxy.
116 Minutes. Starring: Chris Pratt, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Sheen, Laurence Fishburne & Andy Garcia. Director: Morten Tyldum.
Quick question! If you were marooned on a desert island who would be the one person you would choose to be cast away with...after Wilson of course? Okay let's be more specific. Which Hollywood heartthrob or starlet would you most like to be lost in space with all on your own? Man or woman two of the sexiest and successful actors on the planet right now, Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence would probably be pretty high on your list. The faces that turned the 'Guardians Of The Galaxy' comics (not to mention the 'X-Men' ones...we have another superhero crossover here) and 'Hunger Games' books into formidable franchises. All whilst winning Oscars for the likes of 'Silver Lining Play Books' and nominations for sheer self in 'Joy' and rebooting 50 year old, Hollywoodland classic pictures like 'The Magnificent Seven', not to mention modern day classics of the 'Jurassic' era. But if you were stranded on a Star-Lord type of spaceship all by your lonesome would you wake one of them up out of a 'Captain America' like cryogenic sleep for company?! But WAIT you freak, this is after they've been frozen for 30 years and have around another Steve Rogers 90 left before they arrive on their new planetary home with their new, current status dormant friends who have chosen to take the century long, family and friends coffin abandoning 'Interstellar' trip away from the blue planet earth. Some would call that a major stalker alert. Others...murder. That's just some of the complex, conflicted questions raised by inspired director of 'Dr. Strange's' Benedict Cumberbatch's 'The Imitiation Game' Morten Tyldum with his movie 'Passengers'. Not to be confused with the Anne Hathaway and Patrick Wilson airplane horror...I'm assuming it's that...that's not a review. This is. So time to play Iggy Pop passenger and ride through the solar system tonight.
Tyldum gives us a tidal wave of questionable character and extra baggage on this trip through moral murk and the stars of galaxies far, far away in a sci-fi that won't be lost in the trek of all the other space science fictions out there in this rogue 'Star Wars' reboot awakening era. We have yet to see the 'Life' of Ryan Reynolds and Jake Gyllenhaal (not to be confused with the James Dean one of Dane DeHaan that only came out last year), DeHaan's 'Fifth Element' like 'Valerian' adaptation with model and real 'Suicide Squad' villain Cara Delevingne and of course the latest 'Alien: Covenant' horror in 2017. And this year we have already visited '10 Cloverfield Lane' again and had a 'Resurgence' of the 90's classic 'Independence Day' that was unfortunatly more like a regurgitation, but this pre-'Arrival' stands out from the rest not starring Amy Adams...and not just because of Jennifer Lawrence. And it's because of it's original...albeit obnoxious ides which not only leaves you leaving the cinema asking what you would do (I mean would you even take this friend and family killing universe flight away from your life), but questions what we're all made of and just what is the matter with us. And as this 'Deep Space Nine' on it's side like sinking ship faces it's own 'Titanic' like fate with the seas of spaces meteors acting like icebergs this love story is anything but Jack and Rosey (we're pretty sure Jen wouldn't give Chris any room on that plank of wood either and we're not talking about her characters morals...we're talking about his). At least the graphics and C.G. view of the ships quarters and all the space between blooms. One scene that truly makes waves sees Jennifer Lawrence literally swim through zero gravity. Sure there is a repelling nature to the themes of this tale. But you can't deny the magnetism of the on-screen power couple that forces you to your seat like gravity boots.
And 'Passengers' does ride close to the floor, staying grounded in principle and the conflicts and cruelty of manipulating relationships after a shotgun like blast of shock and awful behaviour. Marvel at how someone as charismatic as Chris Pratt's lead really acts more like his last name as you are left repeating it more than his Twitter handle, but creep through the subtext and you might see 'Headhunter' literally employee firing line, Norwegian director Tyldum would be offering us up a cautionary tale that acts as a moral modern metaphor to how we treat love and life these days from the cherry pick and dump choose nature of dating to the swipe left act of social media relationship replacement, if only we'd take our face out our phones for a stalk breaking minute. Science fiction has been using future fables to hold up a moral mirror of metaphor and ask us deeper questions than our place amongst the stars since the dawn of its time. From the by the book forefather, Phillip K. Dick beginnings that has inspired every modern sci-fi idea and literal script by book movie from 'Total Recall' to 'Blade Runner'. To this now new age of '2049' where Denis Villeneuve's decades in the making sequel goes to blaster war with another Ridley Scott produced, classic, timeless, originator epic as the 'Alien' will now burst out the chest and mind of Neil Blomkamp. A modern K. Dick chap with his 'Elysium' and 'District 9' real modern world, and new look on space and time today. You only have to read the book 'Arrival' is based on and Ted Chiang's 'Story Of Your Life' shorts to look and read more into these existential questions based on much more than our universes place. And with Pratt bringing some sympathy and accountability to his characters devils and Jennifer Lawrence offering up some of the best, aggravated acting of her career (aside from when she wakes up...it's hard to mask faking being 'Dazed and Confused' unless your names McConaughey "alright, alright, alright"?) on this one-man ship of truly akward to horrifying engineering stakes, these two still have chemistry despite the combustible nature of their pairing. They offer up another big picture to their already milky way expanding role calls in something that even if ignorant in it's Hollywood polish over decency psoriasis ending that nixes real redemption is still a long way away from the isolated nature of George Clooney's 'Solaris'. And there's even more big names in this superstar matrix in legendary form. As before reuniting with the Neo chosen one of Keanu Reeves in 'John Wick: Chapter 2', Laurence Fishburne returns to space after his 'Event Horizon', with a 'Preadators' like mid-film appearance looking like he needs to take more than a red pill. And if you want to talk about legendary cameos. The great Andy Garcia literally has a walk on. His really is a case of seen it all in the trailers. Although he does bring us his best beard yet. But with all the big names and famous faces here it's the whiskey glass spit and polish of Michael Sheen's android tending bar that really steals the show and pays the tab. Although we still can't unsee this character actor of our time as Tony Blair (or even David Frost) the versatile figure that channeled the late, great David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust for his club owner in 'Tron: Legacy' knows how to raise his own bar once again. Despite being all Lieutenant Dan beneath the waist, showing us all what we thought newsreaders looked like below the desk when we never saw their legs. Even if you'd rather prop up his bar than ride 'Passenger' with our lead that takes Star-Lord's womanising to a whole new jerk the breaks level, you can't deny the star power of Pratt and J-Law's co-pilots. But this galaxy may need a guardian. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
See This If You Liked: 'Lost In Space', 'Solaris', 'Guardians Of The Galaxy'.
Wednesday, 14 December 2016
X-Wing-Days Of Future Past: Rogue Cut.
133 Minutes. Starring: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Riz Ahmed, Alan Tudyk, Jiang Wen, Forest Whitaker & James Earl Jones. Director: Gareth Edwards.
Marvel at just how much Disney has milked the 'Star Wars Story' for all it's worth commercially. But people with a disturbing lack of faith beware because as Lucasfilm goes 'Rogue' in this one they don't even look or smell like going sour anytime soon. Or as they call it "going all 'Police Academy'" with these sequel like they fear all the red capes coming will. After the original Han, Luke and Leia, Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher 'Star Wars' series became 'The Godfather' of science-fiction trilogies that all 'Lord Of The Rings' and 'Dark Knights' are measured by, everyone couldn't wait for George Lucas' Empire to strike back. But when the return of the Jedi's new 'Phantom Menace' milleniuum trilogy gave us the attack of the binks we all needed a new hope. And that's when energized 'Star Trek' reboot director J.J. Abrams switched sides and solar systems like a Siths revenge and took this formidable force of a franchise out of darkness and into the light speed of the Winter warmed fall that used to belong to filthy Hobbitses, that now shows the superhero Summer where the real blockbuster heat lies. Ever since Walt's kids strapped some Mickey Mouse ears on Darth Vader this has been a reawoken force. And the most iconic movie villain of all-time (cue the heavy breathing) that needs no introduction like he does cough drops is back too, with all his Stormtrooper men, some black, scarily sleek Deathtrooper upgrades and those "tall, walky things" from "that snow planet" as your friendly, neighbourly Spider-Man puts it for a war that is anything but Civil as they enter through the trees with 'Jurassic Park' goliath measures of equal intimidation and inspiration. As the rebel hearts armed with more X Wings than Oscar Isaac's hero poetic Poe-who began this new generation so boldly-look to cross out the blueprint plans of the Death Star before it shows us the real Dark Side of the Moon in the best cult, blockbuster heist movie since 'Ant-Man' grew to the big-screen. This is Mission Impossible for this Rogue Nation but boy do you want to light the fuse.
'Godzilla' director Gareth Edwards has given us a monster roaring onto our screens like a tie-fighter. You want a big movie done? This young directors going to spit one out like a blue, light flame, igniting and cutting through the competition like a saber. Illuminating IMAX with an aerial assault of vivid visuals and puncuated planets in a whole new cinematic universe. This goes beyond setting your phasers to stun. Never mind how good the latest trekkie installment was this year, concluding their long lived and prospered trilogy. Long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away those iconic ascending credits may be gone but this 'Rogue One' still rolls with the classics...like Skywalker. Remember from all the 'Clone Wars' animations to Stan Lee comics. The books you read, the games you play, the cards you trade and even the sneakers you lace it's all tied together in one complex but cohesive story. It's not just merchandise...it's a movement. And our solo hero here is not Rey, but Mrs. Jones. As Felicity, who looked to have her big break as Felicia's Blackcat in a 'Sinister Six' like sequel idea (that came before all of D.C.'s 'Suicide Squad' and 'Gotham Sirens' villian movie callings) to the now Electro plug-pulled Andrew Garfield 'Amazing Spider-Man', come Tom Holland Marvel family 'Homecoming' got hers in her award worthy turn as Eddie Redmayne's Professor Stephen Hawkings' wife. Now in going head-to-head with her former on-screen love and his 'Fantastic Beasts...And Where To Find Them', 'Harry Potter' saga, Tom Hanks' 'Da Vinci Code' sequel co-star Felicity Jones is inferno hot, taking us through the theory of Star Wars history for this stellar, spin-off prequel that stands all on its own in more ways than one. If your looking for a sequel, you will have to find new hope. But never fear, there are solo Vader and Han movies that look as promisingly good as Donald Glover as Lando. That sounds as legendary legacy making as Childish Gambino's latest classic album 'Awake, My Love'. Jones' Jin character is just as legendary a heroine as Daisy Ridley's, albeit very different in her dynamics. This is beyond a stereotype as she shows there is more than just the force with this multi-cultural, band or rebels cast with more soul than usual Hollywood typecast stigma. There is more than the usual movie magic here that comes with the future vision of these fables. There's a spirit of us grouping together with a team against all the odds. Knowing that even if this Suicide Squad of anti-heroes for hire look like they are marching to their imperial death, we're more than willing to walk with these new stars.
War ready your new favourite sidekick in our heroes corner like Rocky to Creed in this next gen is Diego Luna. Matt Damon's best friend in the Phillip K. Dick of sci-fi movies that aren't based on the amazing authors books Neil Blomkamp's 'Elysium' is soldarity soldiering great here as he was heartbreakingly good in his breakout blockbuster movie. But this is his mainstream breakthrough thank you. Time to give him his own movie...or at least Netflix show. 'Ip Man' Donnie Yen also comes to American audiences from Asian ones with a flurry as quick as one of his kung fu parries, as the martial arts legend who iconically played the legend that trained Bruce Lee steals the show like he did in the 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon' Netflix 'Sword Of Destiny' sequel on a sheet of ice. This guy takes out more Storm Troopers than door frames...yet he's the one whose blind. These two are the standouts but they head an all-star, all-academy cast that may be the underrated, best yet that 'Star Wars' have assembled. Not to mention who on the third rock from the sun is under those storm trooper helmets like FN-007. Featuring another Chinese legend in Jiang Wen, 'Nightcrawling' breakout and 'The Night Of' star Riz Ahmed and 'Dodgeball' pirate, 'Serenity' star and forthcoming 'Frozen' and 'Wreck It Ralph' sequel voice Alan Tudyk furthering his studio work as prolific as Gollum, ape and of course Snoke Andy Serkis' motion-capture one as this years BB-8 favourite droid K-2SO that looks like the love child of C-3P0 and the Iron Giant with an 'Interstellar' TARS humor setting. What more would you expect from the man who voiced Sonny in 'I, Robot'? He really is one! The droid we've all been looking for. There's even legends here in the form of performance perspiring Mads Mikkelsen who just got 'Strange' with Marvel's new doctor and 'Ghost Dog' and 'Last King Of Scotland' star Forest Whitaker who has been on a resurgence ever since he was of service for Lee Daniels' 'Butler'. Hitting 'Southpaw' with Jake Gyllenhaal last year, before being part of Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner's alien 'Arrival' only last month, for what was the blockbuster of the year until he swapped military fatigues for a rebels unifom. Mentoring our hero Jim with Yoda or Lupita wisdom. But all these heroes for hire need a villain bigger than the Death Star. And 'Bloodline', 'Black Sea', 'Slow West', 'The Place Beyond The Pines' and 'Killing Them Softly' scene stealer (yes we had to mention them all...believe us we're leaving stuff out) Ben Mendelsohn destroys them all loudly, finally starred up as the big bad he and his villain classic voice has always deserved to be. With his cape dragging in the waters of a Bahama beach, sand in your eyes fight set-piece thats like 'Pirates of The Carribean' meets your greatest artillery of war movies like he doesn't care you would think no one could outshine or outshadow him. But this is the first film were the lord Anakin Skywalker became returns since the time he was just a hologram stood next to the late, great Sir Alec Gunniess' Obi Wan (yes...we're leaving the "NOOOOO" out), amongst a whole host of cameos here brought back to young, new life by the good people of C.G.I. No character, actor or villain is as legendary as Vader or the returning iconic voice of James Earl Jones who is no longer just Simba in the clouds. Spaces lion, the king of bad guys is the only thing that could stop a rebel. And in this 'Star Wars Story' that is a strong one and will choke you up with its force hold that's how you truly go 'Rogue'. May the lord be with you...yet always against you. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Friday, 9 December 2016
124 Minutes. Starring: Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard, Jared Harris, Simon McBurney & Lizzy Caplan. Director: Robert Zemeckis.
Scalping Nazis seems to be Brad Pitt's job these days. He rocked a maverick moustache like Sweeny Todd's barber chair and got what he wanted as he performed haircuts on the Third Reich with Quentin Tarantino as an 'Inglorious Basterd'. Then he gave himself a short back and sides with his tanked up suicide squad of Shia LaBeouf, Jon Bernthal, Michael Pena and Logan Lerman for David Ayer's 'Fury'. But what happens in the mist of a world war when even the woman you love is not all she seems too? No we're not talking about the huge Hollywood stars press puncuated personal life powered by rumors of the on-screen alliance here, which we will keep what it should have always remained...private. But the French leading lady Marion Cotillard of 'Macbeth' acting standards' character. But is she an actor? Is she even French? A German spy surely not? Or is she really 'Allied'? That's what you'll be left asking all the way through this refreshingly unpredicatble movie, before Tom Hanks' best 'Forrest Gump' and 'Cast Away' director Robert Zemeckis answers as he takes flight on a third act even more terrifically taught and tense than the time he put Joseph Gordon-Levitt's French trapeze artist on a wire hung between the two towers of the World Trade Center and let him walk. This thrilling red line is even thinner. Pitt's soldiers love life is facing an apocalypse right now.
Brad's third World War II film is just as brilliant as it is different than the first individual two. Showing that it doesn't matter how this unbelievably middle-age pin-up looks (scraggled facial-hair like he's just spent 'Seven Years In Tibet' or the dapper dan 'Captain America' look of this forties classic that socks it to Hitler) he still has the Academy substance over the gorgeous Gentelmans Quarterly style alongside a Chanel advert model just as beautiful and talented. Because critics or maybe 'Team Angelina's' have been calling this like they saw Jolie's 'Tourist' escapade with Johnny Depp back in Rome. All Tom Ford, but no 'Nocturnal Animals'. But just like that was a criminally underrated throwback crime caper classic to the Cary Grant era this is an old boys Hollywoodland tour de force that Clark Gable would be proud of or the future hall of filmography fame of Pitt's will be when it's all said and looked back on. This is as monumental as friends George Clooney and Matt Damon's 'Ocean Eleven' like 'Monuments Men' team-up that Brad missed the boat for and the actual true soulful story in the name of art that inspired it. And critics called old father time on that one too...and Bill Murray, John Goodman and Cate Blanchett were in it to boot. Brad Pitt shows here with duty and diligance to both country and family that he is a classic leading man for any ages and just like his vast but still crazily so underrated filmography for a superstar of his magnitude (take 'Legends Of The Fall', 'A River Runs Through It', 'Twelve Monkeys', '12 Years A Slave', 'The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button', 'The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford', 'Moneyball' and most recently 'The Big Short' for your next DVD night starters), timeless. World War 2 or 'World War Z'.
Pitted against it all-even his own squadron-Brad brings back that furiously forceful 'Fury' action acting as he single-handlely takes out a tank of German soldiers armed with a pin and a good right arm (he even dispatches a soldier with a biscotti before his coffee loses its crema), before exploding into that epic emotional 'Se7en' like acting that is anything but a sin, but draws on all of them. 'La Vie En Rose' star Marion Cotillard is anything but rusty here either being the bones of this picture by bringing forth all her previous body of work. The French actress really is a classic, throwback Hollywood starlet like 'The Artist' in this grey area tale that is more than shades of black and white. Perfectly paired alongside Pitt but against our theories or doubts she plays the 'whose that girl' role to a tee. Remember Fassbenders forthcoming 'Assassins Creed' co-star was the master manipulator as his lady in 'Macbeth'. No wonder revolutionary director Christopher Nolan tapped up her side switching enigmatic talents twice for 'Inception' and 'The Dark Knight Rises'. Here in a classic cast she is the only one who can get close to Pitt. Including an underused but still utilized Lizzy Caplan as his on-screen sister, coming off the 'Masters Of Sex' and some nice trick treats for the 'Now You See Me' sequel. Allied almost against him in command are two actors with that range of a performance. Stealing the one scene he's in like he owns the movie, Simon McBurney puts the fear of God by death into Brad Pitt like he did Denzel Washington's 'Manchurian Candidate' as a demon doctor with devastating side effects and repurcussions. But it's Sherlock Holmes' Moriarty that really takes us over the edge. But the just great Jared Harris had never been better, even if the last time he was next to one of Brad Pitt's curious character he was looking completely different at sea too. With changing tides coming to our shores, director Zemeckis looks to navigate a picture that will sail as good as 'Forest Gump', no cast away flight. Offering to light the ladies cigarette first he scratches the surface of this book of matches before building up this slow burners ratchet tension. Like the plummeting plane gliding down the most amazing aerial assualt of siren piercing realism ever seen on screen slowly but sinisterly. All the way until everything comes crashing down around us and we get the answer to why we're shedding tears, whether they be in relief of joy or perplexed pain. This is just what makes this traditional tone and texture movie from the classic cinematic start setting in Casablanca of all places so darn good for the duration. As you wonder which side everyone is on in this love and war were all is not fair. No matter your ally. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Thursday, 8 December 2016
Creed For This.
117 Minutes. Starring: Miles Teller, Aaron Eckhart, Kathy Segal, Ciaran Hinds & Ted Levine. Director: Ben Younger.
CRASH! BANG! 'Whiplash'! Miles Teller actually claims that and then some as he enters the ring to 'Bleed For This' and portray divine Providence boxer Vinny 'The Pazmanian Devil' Pazienza, who took the wrong turn on a highway one day and ended up in a spin cycle that rinsed him and put this red corner devil in a halo . Quite the canvas for his career as his spine was one hit or getting up out the car akwardly bump away from paralysis. But then again this is quite the real life comeback story boxing movies like 'Creed' and the 'Rocky' legacy wish they could script. Because this 'Cocky Balboa' takes a 'Southpaw' hit (and we aren't talking about the underrated 'Fantastic Four' reboot mister!) and comes back swinging with an extended arm like Gyllenhaal, taking its place on the steps between 'Ali' and 'Raging Bull' as one of the best boxing movies. Teller has his foot on the gas and never has to let up or put the breaks on, unlike people who park on San Francisco roads. Forget a cliche. This seconds out genre still dancing at 2016 looks like a million dollar baby of a franchise, no matter how breakneck the pace. As brilliant 'Boiler Room' director Ben Younger coming of age fuses this all together and really screws in the sense of pain. Forget a cringe or tingle down your spine this will wreck your every nerve if you have it. Blood, screw and muscle tears.
Miles ahead our leading man Miles Teller is racking up the hits and big numbers like a bank teller. Kind of like one of the real life 'War Dogs' he portrayed alongside Jonah Hill, which goes toe-to-toe with this as one of the best underrated films of the year. But now this dogs war zone is the punishing ring and his weapons for sale are strapped under two gloves, left and right. Drumroll please! He may not get the Oscar...but he's got the belt. At least give this kid a nomination...he's graduated from the Academy. Whipping and lashing with his Tommy Hearns and Jack Johnson, stretching the canvas with his fantastic left and right. But his doom here? His symbol headshot teacher? His Jonah looking to make bucks out of him before he's over the hill? Two shady promoters that make Don King and all his Mr. T bling look like a princess and blaow. No less than Jake, Teller tenses and muscles up to fighting weight to give us fight scenes and ringside set-pieces that are all rage no bull#### (Scorsese scores points as executive producer). It takes dedication to train to hit at this level. But to show the arrogant charismatic, bruised soul of a down and out, cornered New England prospect coming out of the blue collar stool with bloody knuckles like Boston 'Fighter' Mark Wahlberg takes real heart kid...and that's why this fighter and actor is a real prize. Forget a knockout cliche, Miles has the brass knuckles that could at least scuff Oscars gold.
And it's not like he doesn't have his opponents outside the ring like the tried and tested one of this Pasmanian devils own inner demon. Cue a string of Jersey bound Barbie girl dates that are made up to the maximum factor and the instantly vocally (if here not visually) recognisable Ted Levine (of 'Silence Of The Lambs', 'Heat' and 'Shutter Island' infamy) as a former trainer more backing him into a corner as he wants to squeeze every cent of penny, not ounce of sweat out of the kid. With a sneering sinister undercurrent performance that on the surface once looked like loyalty shows Ted's talents beyond how he talks and the actor we always thought the criminally underused of late Levine was always destined to be. And hats and old 80's shady frames off for 'Road To Perdition' and 'Miami Vice' character actor Ciaran Hands playing brilliantly against typecast as the Rhode Island father of Miles' fighter with the two clawing paws. With her son living in anarchy, 'Married...With Children' star and instantly brain scanning recognisable 'Futurama' voice Kathy Segal's mothering character too looks, but is nothing like Melissa Leo as her son shrine and candlelight vigile keeps her woories warm with the army of sisters on the tube in the frontroom as she can't watch the hits like Brad Pitt in 'Moneyball'. But with all this support it's fellow man of the moment (albeit a little out the lead) Aaron Eckhart who shows what it really means to be behind somebody. If 'The Dark Knight's' Harvey Dent gets a nomination for your supporting actor he'll only be going up against himself. As after being in Tom Hanks cockpit corner as the co-pilot of 'Sully' this month he's back on wingman duty once again. Though the classically leading man looking handsome Eckhart's chiseled features could not look any different. The trim traded for paunch and those blonde on blonde locks have receeded further than the waters in 'Deep Impact', so much so you can't tell if he's balding or about to join the monastery. And with that Boston beans accent if it wasn't for the chin you wouldn't be able to tell it's him like Jon Voight in 'Ali' as Howard Cosell. The district attorny of Gotham really does have two faces. But this is just one half of Aaron's acclaimed performance as in playing the hungover trainer that brought the pitbull out of Mike Tyson with sobering sincerity, Eckhart etches his name along with 'Sully' on best actor considerations regardless of the season. And just wait until he gets down...because this guy dances better than Oscar Isaac in 'Ex Machina', worthy of a trophy in itself. All in all, for this a maturing Younger, Miles' soul and the heart of Eckhart do more than just bleed...they live for this. And they got the scars to prove it. Can't outbox that. TIM DAVID HARVEY.