Friday, 21 April 2017
She Brought A Zoo.
126 Mins. Starring: Jessica Chastain, Johan Heldenbergh, Michael McElhatton & Daniel Bruhl. Director: Niki Caro.
Lions, tigers and bears. Oh my! This is 'The Zookeepers Wife'. Jessica Chastain's study of zoology. But save your 'Dr. Zoolittle' or 'Jessica Rabbit' pathetic puns. Because one of the leading actresses in the world today, the Academy Award nominated Jessica Chastain is getting real serious here and with her compelling career. This isn't no 'Zookeeper', Kevin James crass comedy. Or a light, 'We Brought A Zoo' feel-good flick. But something which we're amazed didn't garner at least an Oscar nomination for a woman whose work in 'Miss Sloane' should have also been honoured, as she would have gone up against herself aswell as Emma Stone and 'Jackie's' Natalie Portman. All we can say is we can't wait for 'Mollys Game' from 'The Help' and 'Zero Dark Thirty' actress who right now is on the form of her life. What more could you expect from a woman of great power and variety (and we aren't just talking about the New York publications feature)? One who is leading a revolt and a revolution to close the so behind the times it should have been removed way back when in Hollywoodland like the rest of that sign that became iconic once it changed (see?!) gender pay gap? One of our best actors (do we really need to distiguish?) that recently turned down a major role because her male co-star of equal billing was getting more zeroes for the same invested work (our money is on it being some sort of superhero movie for this heroine). Sure the actress who has starred alongside the leading likes of McConaughey (the incredible 'Interstellar'), Damon (the Mars mesmerizing 'The Martian'), Pitt (the otherworldy, outstanding 'Tree Of Life' origins...which she was in more) and Isaac (the major 2015 calender best, 'A Most Violent Year') is in the privilege position of being a millionaire who gets to act in parts she picks and wants to play for a living. But don't get it confused! With all due respect, like a Suffragette (she should have been in that movie with fellow icons Carey Mulligan and Meryl Streep) for the rich and famous she's doing this for others too. All the young up and coming actresses who can't catch a break unless they are pigeon-holed into a sometimes sexual stereotype in this la la industry lands look at a world that in reality is full of characters as complex and collectively different as a round hole. But Jessica is willing to show us the square peg and not get in where she fits in (or some other tired cliche), but instead change the mould. Unlocking and breaking down the barriers of Diane Ackerman's book and real life story of Polish Zookeeper Antonia Zabinski who in a 1939 war-torn Warsaw saved the lives of around 300 Jewish people by hiding them from Hitler's Nazis in her zoo in World War 2.
Played with hope in the face of harrowing heartbreak like Oscar winning Adrian Brody's 'Pianist', to the book like Speilberg's 'Schindlers List', Chastain is gold as the amazing Antonia, playing the piano perfectly like in her creepy 'Crimson Peak' as a warning my day and a safe to come out now song by night. A monumental woman of history, Zabinski's story is one of many real-life inspirations from World War 2 that go largely untold to the masses. Much like the art saving old troops of 'The Monuments Men' that George Clooney and his Oceans of Matt Damon and Bill Murray and John Goodman, restored to underrated brilliance two years back. What Antonia and her zookeping husband Jan Zabinski did in saving so many persecuted Jews goes beyond the power of the sheer number, all the way down to the personal touch they beautifully gave to each person. Treating them like the individuals that they are and not a discriminated people based on their faith that the evil Nazis did...the darkest time in human history that still beggars belief. But even out of the bleakest time comes light and shining it on this story, 'The Moon By Whale Light' novel writer and poet Diane Ackerman and 'Whale Rider' director Niki Caro scream it from every rooftop many decades later for everyone willing to hear and learn about a story from history that teaches us yet again how to be today in a world needing more inspiration and less influence from the ignorant. Ingrained into our collective consciousness no matter how lacking of luster we are in a spiritually stunted modern world of discrimination still rampant across the borders by a captivating performance by Chastain. This the vegan actresses passion project as she describes a trust that lies in the eyes of animals that runs deeper than humans. As she rides around her zoo and all its inhabitants on her biycycle to start the day and film. With a polished Polish accent and the sincerity of this sweet lady showing unfathomable strength behind the shyness. Just like when she nurses a baby elephant calf back to health with the trunk of her protective mother bearing down. Facing up to abhorrent, bullying soldiers of inhumane evil, bravely in the wake of them torturing and cruelly killing not only her people, but the beautiful animals of her zoo too in some of the most horrific moments you'll avert your eyes from on screen.
Keeping and protecing jews under Nazi hiding lock and key is reminscent of the under the floorboards, terrifyingly tense, extended opening scene of Quentin Tarantino's 'Inglorious Basterds'. Done with much more dignity from the ketchup and spaghetti western director and his German, Oscar winning muse Christophe Waltz. And here his breakout Berlin star Daniel Bruhl is back in Nazi uniform again like this great actor really wants us to hate us. Coming off playing the unmasked Baron Zemo villain and Captain America's 'Civil War' with Iron Man orchestrata, alongside 'Thor' Chris Hemsworth's James Hunt nemesis Niki Lauda in Ron Howard's Formula 1 'Rush'. This recognisable face grows a terrible third reich 'tache and brutually buries any characterized confliction with conviction. It takes a truly remarkable actor to play someone so far gone evil, but Bruhl does it brilliantly with every emotion and doesn't play into the hands of uniformed cliche character fodder. On the right side of a revolt however we can't talk about 'The Zookeepers Wife' without honouring the husband himself. And 'Moscow, Belgium' actor Johan Heldenbergh plays Jan Zabinski with understated brilliance. Fighting for freedom and family in the forlorn face of unspeakable, insurmountable odds. One scene where he rescues a innocent child from the most horrific experience tears at every heartstring and remains the rawest emotional scene of a film full of tragedy at every turn (from brutal bombings to the subtely of the mistaken beauty of ash falling like snow). All until he helps arms open children onto a train, offering them some semblance of hope so they won't know the horrific end to the line that's coming. It almost sounds and seems crazy but it's all the man that did everything to save could do to ease a pain he couldn't protect. Now tell me that isn't a hero! Just like every common man and woman that strived and survived this war. Like the zoo worker that 'Game Of Thrones' actor Michael McElhatton captures with the genuine spirit of a sweet soul. Everyone from page to screen here is note perfect in retelling this story again and again with every moment of horror and heart unturned. It's the nature of nurturing the nicer stories of inspiration and humanity that came from a raw war utterly devoid of such. And in a year where best of British director Christopher Nolan is going to take us right into the sand of the beaches of 'Dunkirk' with Tom Hardy, his 'Interstellar' actress and the aformentioned actors 'Lawless' co-star shows us wars aren't just won by our best and brave soldiers...but everyday heroes that extend an unclenched hand too. And the actor that played the women that lead the manhunt for Osama Bin Laden and her help here may just be our leads leading picture in a formidable filmography.When it comes to Jessica Chastain's character chasing away Nazis she brings so much to this revolutionary role. And with Diane Ackerman's novel idea in mind, it's Antonia Zabinski's incredible, inspiring true story and legacy that will always keep. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
See This If You Liked: 'The Help', 'We Brought A Zoo', 'Monuments Men'.
Friday, 14 April 2017
Australian actor and Hollywood star Hugh Jackman is currently cutting his claws one last time as the X-Men mutant Wolverine in the legendary, legacy making 'Logan'. Arguably both the most successful and popular movie for not only his character, but the 17 year strong Marvel mutant franchise as a whole...including Ryan Reynolds' 'Deadpool'.
Yet this isn't the first time Jackman and reuniting Johnny Cash biopic 'Walk The Line' director James Mangold have impressed the superhero genre. Back in 2013 Logan's run as 'The Wolverine' saw him lost in translation in Tokyo, Japan. Mixed up with all sorts of characters and assassins, from the neon night noir to bullet-train shot set pieces that streaked and illuminated. But one climatic fight scene resonated even more than all the high-wire action, especially on the deeper cutting R-rated edition of this movie.
And it was legendary Japanese actor Hiroyuki Sanada who played the opposing part perfectly as a villanious, but conflicted character who embraced the dark side for his final black rain at night temple showdown with the wolf. Combatting Wolverines claws with two samurai swords, dressed up like a traditional warrior and fighting to the death. Yet what was most impressive in this grotesque choreographed battle royale was his emotionally aggravated, but amazed acting in raw reaction to the Wolverine's renewed healing factor that really struck a far deeper cord.
This acting facet has been the 56 year old Sanada's Hollywood calling card for decades. From finding himself on the mysterious island series 'Lost', to 'Slumdog Millionaire' director Danny Boyle's stunning 'Sunshine'. But next week Hiroyuki goes up against Logan again with his 'Life'. Not a film to be confused with the 2015 magazine biopic of James Dean starring Dane DeHaan and Robert Pattinson. But an 'Alien' like, mars attacks, spaceship submerged sci-fi thriller starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Ryan Reynolds and Rebecca Ferguson. Now that's quite a cast, but it's Sanada's opening moments of the international trailer that see him proudly show his fellow astronauts a video sonogram back on earth of his pregnant wife that brings real heart to this horror. "Hey guys...it's a girl" he beams like the sun, before jokingly telling Ryan Reynolds to "shut up" after he quips and asks who the father is. All in good nature.
'Life' should find its line in this pre-summer season of blockbusters that the post-apocalypse 'Logan' started. Even in the year of 'Alien: Covenant'. And it won't be down to just the A-listers. But the Japanese megastar and Hollywood household name Hiroyuki too. The Tokyo born actor currently staring in the T.V. series 'The Last Ship', who trained as an actor with martial arts legend Sonny Chiba and got his first real serious big break with the movie 'Mahjong Hourouki'.
A man who has also conquered the British Isles, earning himself an M.B.E. from the Queen in the process for his performance in 'King Lear' for the Royal Shakespeare Company. An actor who continues to capture the heart of Great Britain. From starring alongside national treasure Colin Firth in the revelatory, hard-hitting prison of war drama 'The Railway Man', to aiding an ageing, sage Sherlock in Ian McKellen's incarnation of 'Mr. Holmes'. You'll know this actor through plenty a filmography. Whether putting Tom Cruise through his paces in 'The Last Samurai'. Or a sword similiar, Keanu Reeves '47 Ronin' update, albeit in a much more modern, supernatural form. And who could forget his terrific turn alongside great friend and Chinese legend Jackie Chan in 'Rush Hour 3'? Playing Detective Lee's bad guy brother as Jackie and motormouth Chris Tucker chased him to Paris, France.
This mans even been a voice to millions in 'Minions'. But with a new 'Despicable Me' out this year and the world gone yellow C.G. crazy you can find new 'Life' this month with one of the greatest actors of our generation.
Just don't tell Hugh.
Wednesday, 12 April 2017
The Fast & The Fury Road.
136 Mins. Starring: Vin Diesel, Dwyane 'The Rock' Johnson, Jason Statham, Charlize Theron, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Nathalie Emmanuel, Scott Eastwood, Kurt Russell & Helen Mirren. Director F. Gary Gray.
Straight outta petrol? Nah! Not with this gear shift. There's a new type of Diesel in the tank and this New York state of drive is not running on fumes or drifting like Tokyo. Changing lanes from L.A. to the Big Apple, the 'Fast and the Furious' franchise pole position driver is about to go all Mad Max with Furiosa by his furious side. All before turning into a baby tree with returning co-star Kurt Russell's Ego for Volume 2 of 'Guardians Of The Galaxy'. He is Groot. And this is Vin Diesel's month. If not the 'Return Of Xander Cage's' year he began with 'xXx' for his triple-threat. Now we don't know 'The Fate Of The Furious' in this eighth wonder of another 'Fast and Furious' installment, as modern day action hero Vin Diesel turns into this movie big bad and even has some candy a## beef with The Rock. But apparantly it's all 'F8' and in the wake of Paul Walker's tragic death and the beautiful tribute paid to him by his crew and real family brothers in 'Fast and Furious 7' this team just want to keep driving in his name until they see him again. And they'll sure have a lot to tell him all about after this long time as this formidable franchise with more track for the insane record than Usain Bolt hits the nitrus of the nitrus and lightning injects even more insulin into this cereal box, car candy, popcorn cinema sugar rush. Busting the blocks of the second chapter of 'John Wick', the last one of 'Logan' the 'Kong: Skull Island' reboot and the 'Ghost In The Shell' movie manga anime adaptation summer starters. All whilst veering off the road any hot season movies trying to take their turn whether monkey, 'Mummy' or Marvel. Ladies and gentelmen...restart your engines.
Wonder how this super 8 episode doesn't run out of tarmac on this long and winding road, whilst fans keep lapping it all up? It's automoblie B movie beauty in this age of Keanu Reeves new Neo cult characters. And taking the wheel from 'Star Trek-Beyond' Justin Lin successor James Wan ('Insidious'), it's 'Straight Outta Compton' and 'Law Abiding Citizen' actioneer director F. Gary Gray's-breaking all king of traffic violations-lane now. And the great Gary Gray-who once drove Minis through subways-drops Miley Cyrus' wrecking balls and das boot kicking submarines out of submersion like F bombs. Riding Mustang Sally shotgun to literal car jacks and pile up set pieces like the holy essence of the original street race wars. Reuniting with all kinds of 'Baby Boy' and 'Italian Job', street slick, car carnage actors and actresses aswell as Vin. Who truly becomes 'A Man Apart' here like the directing/acting dynamic duos most dynamite dual-picture pairing. Setting it off as always, Diesel is the pure petroleum powerhouse and the key to this ignition. This time going against his preached notion of familia and showing us that this modern day Stallone can play bad just as good as when he's on the right(ish) side of the law too like a Travolta/Cage unlocked 'Face/Off'. Fitting this costume change out as well as his Bruce Willis 'Die Hard' string vest complete with the silver cross he bears across his chest. Riding Clyde to Charlize Theron's 'Atomic Blonde' Bonnie. The dreaded, locked down hostage taking villain of this picture whose about to become the female 'John Wick' in her forthcoming flick. But behind a console more than a wheel we would love to see the ever thorough Theron with more 'Atomic' peroxide, showing the full fury of her 'Mad Max' Furiosa character. Especially as fellow shaved head Jason Statham has gone full 'Transporter' and changed 'Civil War' teams to the side of the road as his former 'Death Race' co-star Tyrese (I guess turning 'Tokyo Drift' star Sung Kang (we hope the rumors of this favourites return are true, because he's as missed as his former on screen love, 'Wonder Woman' Gal Gadot) into a spoiler alert is all forgiven). Becoming an 'Expendable' villain and teaming up with Dwyane 'Orange Is The New Rock' Johnson after a concrete hard prison breaking riot that ups the ante on the 'Daredevil' Punisher's cell block and counters. Action-hero Stath is as fun as he scene stealingly surprisingly was in 'Spy' as he and action Johnson turn this battle of the balds into some of the best dome shots and tank top one-liners you've seen since the baby oil and forehead back and forths. And even if The Rock and his almost milk carton screen-time with Diesel really is in a hard place the former wrestler turned Schwarzenegger shows that this isn't just his film but his franchise too. As the 'Baywatch' block stands guard on what might be his superhero becoming career year, going even 'Faster' than before, coast to coast. Berlin to Russia. A world as wide as his forearms.
Yet there's still so much more in the tank for this pure American muscle, epic, entertainment ensemble. Just like '2 Fast, 2 Furious' singing/rapping acting duo Tyrese Gibson and Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges making the 'Bad Boys' action/comedy in this rush hour looking all too easy. Black-Ty, the new punchline king here on his finest, formidable funny form...his best 'Fast' times since he siphoned the unleaded sequel loss of Diesel by stepping in and stepping up to the pedal. Whilst disturbing the online peace, Luda and returning 'Game Of Thrones' Fitz/Simmons 'Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.' like love interest Nathalie Emmanuel (car-pooling with Braveheart bearded, fellow 'G.O.T' star Kristofer Hivju) hack into Theron's 'Net' like cyber-bully Chiper. Whilst Diesel's co-original star and on-screen love Michelle Rodriguez is beautifully trying to bring her beau back, just like he did to her for all these amnesic years and films. Making up for the loss of Jordana Brewster (that comes with the Paul Walker's absent character territory) and the Eva Mendes 'Fast Five' cameo which looks like it will never come to full film fruition like '2 Fast' too. But there's a lot of famous faces, familiar too that bridge all these gaps like 'Thor' Chris Hemsworth's wife Elsa Patkay. But to reveal more would ruin all the sweetest surprises. 'The Hateful 8' star and 'Escape From New York' legend Kurt Russell rejoins this G.T.A. N.Y.C. (with even more bails) of 'Death Proof' American muscle in what between the rig of 'Deepwater Horizon' and his little big planet turn in 'Guardians of The Galaxy' sequel looks to be the second volume of his cult/action hero classic career, honed down to a science fiction. His Nobody character really is something. All God's eyes where on this 'Bone Tomahawk' wild west great in the last 'Furious' turn and this time he's bringing another legend in Clint's legacy making son Scott Eastwood along for the ride. And boy does the 'Suicide Squad', 'Gran Torino' star, young Eastwood have it down. But for all the parts under the hood its great Brit national treasure and 'RED' action O.A.P. heroine Helen Mirren that's truly the jewel in this crown or chrome spoiler. And after pulling off getting the biggest name of royalty guess whose mother she plays? 'Fast 8' really goes pedal to metal in a Universal franchise that according to wild speculation once tried to include Matt Damon's 'Jason Bourne' and even a Terminator to the engines machinery like a 'Men In Black' crossover off 'Jump Street'. Stranger things have happened in this 'Rogue Dom-A Fast and Furious Story' for a franchise that has now escaped the chase of 'Police Academy' number sequels. Now this raging series that keeps going like NASCAR is gunning all the way for a 10th lap, can we suggest the name 'F9' for the next go-round? If 'Fat8' will have it. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
See This If You Liked: 'Furious 7', 'Death Race', 'The Italian Job (2003)'.
Saturday, 8 April 2017
Lucy In Translation.
106 Mins. Starring: Scarlett Johansson, 'Beat' Takeshi Kitano, Chin Han, Michael Pitt, Pilou Asbaek, & Juliette Binoche. Director: Rupert Sanders.
She is Major. Scarlett Johansson. She's on site. Whether Avenging heroine, or 'Iron Fist' whitewash. 'Ghost In The Shell'. 'Lucy' in a futuristic Tokyo meets Osaka and Kyoto like skyline, shining like neon diamonds. This is Black Widow's peak, ever since she was last 'Lost In Translation' in Japan. And no one complained about her opening shot in Sofia Coppola's classic when she was still a teenager. Or her on-screen coupling with a middle-aged Bill Murray in the offbeat romantic tour de force, from the lights of Shinjuku to the crossing of the Times Square like Shibuya. But now this Hollywood actress is portraying a character from a cult Asian anime for cinema? It's all Matt Damon in 'The Great Wall' again. Do you remember anyone saying anything about Tom Cruise in 'The Last Samurai'? Or Keanu Reeves in '47 Ronin'? Difference is Matt Damon's 'Wall' hit critical concrete, whereas this 'Ghost' is no shell. It's a haunting, visual spectacle of future 'Blade Runner' stakes in the 2017 year of '2049'. Sci-fi forefather Phillip K. Dick and creator of all things 'Total Recall' and 'Minority Report' would be as proud as his popping pupils for this reload on 'The Matrix' cult sci-fi, real-life like avatar plug-in revolution. Sure, yes all you need to do is look to 'Pacific Rim' to find an Asian actress more suited to major. Or even the Marvel show 'Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.' for an Asian/American one. But Scarlett's action heroism honed in this continents 'Limitless' lengths of 'Lucy' is to the letter here. Sure there's an 'Iron Fist' race issue here, but just like that Marvel/Netflix show that shouldn't be confused for how actually good this is as a piece of entertainment. Even if a more fitting picture would make for this industries art. Either way this three dimensonal, block busting IMAX dream will leave you shell shocked.
Cultural appropriation may be the issue here, but this ghost in the machines shell suit raises a question of whether this cult adaptation is appropriate as Johansson basically looks naked in her Major get-up, like the time she truly got 'Under The Skin'. But the actress who argues that her skimpy Black Widow outfits are the same as her Thor and Captain America muscled and honed suit ups, is paying homage to the original 'Ghost In The Shell' source material look, all whilst affording more respect to the age appropriate crowds this movie hopes to please. And it makes for some cloaked and dagger, morphing action sequences that range with real power. Forget those Saben Iron Men looking "mighty" heroes and their fried chicken looking villains. Take the towering, formidable, first five minutes that debuted online to outstanding actioneering hits. 'Ghost In The Shell' has haunting, inspired imagery you couldn't design better. Spider crawling up the walls robot Geisha's and life like neon advertisings that are landamarks in their own right and light line the glass shattering towers of Tokyo that will make you spill your Sake. And for Major's sake, Scarlett Johansson gives maximum effort and in turn maximum output as this assimilating android, free falling from scraping skies as iconic as the Manga in cinema. She kicks ass in this video game dream as 'Lucy' or Widow per, but also brings a strength of soul of character in what serves as the actresses spiritual sequel to 'Lost In Translation' further East and into the future. After all this time translated you will find Scarlett's star power is still red hot in the land of the rising sun.
'Shell' holds plenty more users in 'Snow White and The Huntsman' director Rupert Sanders upgrade that gives this mesmerizing Manga and atmospheric anime the 'Tron: Legacy' polish and shine treatment. Fighting for this one and it's origins is Tokyo's own Takeshi Kitano. The Japanese acting, screenwriting and directing legend who usually goes to war with yakuza dramas is armed with a six-shooter and a car door here to the opening delight of all the true fans. He can't be beat. Whilst Chinese star Chin Han (you know the guy from 'The Dark Knight' whose "good with calculation") adds more to this set. Yet it's Danish 'Game Of Thrones' actor Pilou Asbaek (who is one for whitewashing controversy movies having just starred in 'The Great Wall') who makes a perfect Batou, going to battle and trust with Major. Speaking of robotics, 'Boardwalk Empire' star and Leonardo DiCaprio lookalike with Hollywood royalty as a surname Michael Pitt also computes, even if he too might be appropriating a little too. Still with more of a shell of a spindly frame this android counts his electric sheep too. Any legacy needing certification is confirmed by the presence of 'Chocolat' and 'The English Patient' legend Juliette Binoche. The actress who once turned down Steven Speilberg for 'Jurassic Park' has warmed to the idea of Summer blockbuster, monster movies having starred in 2014's 'Godzilla'. And even if this King Kong battling kaiju isn't as big in Japan as the one with a 'Shin' it's clear Binoche believes in blockbusters...at least smart ones. And this is exactly what this hardwired one is. So before you think this is built to self-destruct, it's time for a critical reprogramming. When it comes to reboots this 'Ghost In The Shell' has more power than those trying to take away from it. Whichever way you look at it. Even if a new anime has been excitingly announced by the original animators. This cyberpunk rocks. Shining like a neon night in the futuristic city of what we call 'Tokyosaka', this Ghost still keeps its soul and spirit. All whilst breaking free of its shell. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
See This If You Liked: 'Lucy', 'Lost In Translation', 'Blade Runner'.
Friday, 24 March 2017
Life Off Mars.
103 Minutes. Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Ryan Reynolds, Rebecca Ferguson, Olga Dihovichnaya, Ariyon Bakare & Hiroyuki Sanada. Director: Daniel Espinosa.
This 'Life' as we know it finds a way to confuse us. Are we all in agreement that this is just another 'Alien' in the year of 'Covenant'? Or is this a 2015 James Dean magazine biopic starring Dane DeHaan and Robert Pattinson back issue repeat? An early millennium prison break comedy with Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence breaking out the 'Shawshank' spoons? And people, why does Ryan Reynolds look so pissed in this above photo? Is it because someones shoved him in a washing machine at a laundrette? I know staring at a washing machine as a kid is fun, but being stuck in one is a different matter. No! No! And...well, perhaps. Like 'Prometheus' this is alien to Ridley Scott's infamous franchise. Apart of it, not a part of it. Even if the trailer for 'Covenant' coming before it will have all late comers in the dark spilling their corn and soda as they rush to their seats thinking the movies already started...not to mention escalated quickly. And this isn't the same 'Life' form of Dane playing Dean or Murphy getting 25 years too. There's so many reboots and remakes about these days it's a wonder there aren't more movie duplicates out now. Remember the 'Fast and Furious' confusion? Well before the 'F8' of that next Diesel power franchise lane and all the Marvel and monsters entering the Summer blockbuster race, 'Life' joins 'Logan's' last breath, the 'Skull Island' of 'Kong' and of course the man, the myth and the legend 'John Wick' to spring-step that season early. All with their own out of this world horror that will make the earthbound nature of Sandra Bullock's 'Gravity' and the literal life on Mars of Matt Damon's 'Martian' look like a moonwalk in the park on an interstellar level. Right before little green men start bursting out of everyones chests with all due respect and honour to the late, great John Hurt and Bill Paxton. Now in a space station odyssey turned into a tumble dryer, here's your latest close encounter.
Unlocking this pressure contained airlock of sci-fi horror is 'Safe House' director Daniel Espinosa who lets former Washington guard Ryan Reynolds back in. And from the opening eclipsing scene of the satellite station blinding like the sun behind it you know this is going to be as visual an experience as a visceral one. And this holds us even futher in this notion in the opening one shot camera grip that maps the entirety of this ship and introduces you to all the hard at working crew as they float around you and upside down in zero gravity. Impressive isn't the word. When it comes to these solar system crowded lost in space films, it's inspired. Much has been observed over the new creative trends of outstanding one shots. From Matthew McConaughey's undercover escape from a neighbourhood rife with racial raw tension and firearms in the first series of 'True Detective', to 'Daredevil's' double season namesake hallway hit 'em ups. And let's not forget the entire, epic, brilliant 'Birdman' movie that flew away with the Oscar. But this perfect pan has you floating and flying like Peter in perfect, synchronised time. But when it comes to the vice-like grip, face-hugger handshake introduction with this thing itself in Espinosa's alien picture that has influences from John Carpenter's Kurt Russell movie not set in China, New York or L.A. amongst other cult creature horrors and "nerd" references (even borrowing the 'Spirit In The Sky' volume off fellow spacemen the 'Guardians Of The Galaxy's' tape deck), this lotus flower come squid like creature is like no other. A far cry from those humanoid 'Star Trek' aliens that merely manifest a few bones in their cranium to convince us their other worldly. But with all due respect to the pointed ears this astronaut predator takes our eyes more. And anything else it gets its nerve pinching tentacles around.
Because when it comes to the man vs species they can't begin to understand, human nature of this survival in space story there is an international cast list on the menu in the form of this crew. Of course there is 'Deadpool' himself Reynolds. And the merc still has his trademark mouth that has got himself into all sorts of trouble. But how can you even be, let alone stay mad at this man and his quintessential quips when his light relief is exactly what you'd need in the solitary zero G's of space? Especially when he's on the traditional rocket boosted form of his life. But when the washing machine...or airlock door is closed on him in an iconic making moment, dates everywhere will get a treat as his Hollywood heartthrob, pin-up eyes are met by more in the two for the price of one leading man Jake Gyllenhaal. And the 'Nocturnal Animals' and 'Everest' star, clean-cut, shaven and looking like his wind the clock back, 'Day After Tomorrow' days traps us in the tortured loneliness of his characters just like he does in the arresting 'Prisoners', crumbling 'Demolition' or the skin of 'Nightcrawler'. Yet here isolated, even amongst others, looking out to the most beautiful view of planet earth and another world now so close, but a million miles and a record amount of 700 plus days away he's finally home. But even with this leading two dynamic duo, this is really Rebecca Ferguson's movie. And after stealing the show in the 'Rogue Nation' of Tom Cruise's 'Mission Impossible 5' and the gone girl of Emily Blunt's 'Girl On The Train' this is her moment...and boy does she own it in a commanding performance with the role as captain. Fellow great Brit Ariyon Bakare also graduates from the BBC T.V. series' of 'Spooks', the U.K. version of 'Law and Order' and a rogue cameo in last December's 'Star Wars' story with gripping first contact here. Whilst Russian actress Olga Dihovichnaya with her hair cut down to a Bullock bob, strapping herself into a spacesuit like a Sandra hero brings more grounding 'Gravity' to this film. As Japanese legend and '47 Ronin' star Hiroyuki Sanada completes this crew with heart of new family and so much soul, inspiring him to survive against any odds for what waits for him back on the blue planet. The man who from 'The Last Samurai' to 'The Wolverine' and 'The Railway Man' to 'Rush Hour 3' has always impressed brings so much more inspiration home here. There's so much life here in Espinosa's epic, breeding a new extraterrestrial one. And when it comes to the martian's, this is how Mars really attacks. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
See This If You Liked: 'Alien', 'Event Horizon', 'The Last Days On Mars'.
Monday, 20 March 2017
Iron Man 2.
13 Episodes. Starring: Finn Jones, Jessica Henwick, Tom Pelphrey, Jessica Stroup, Ramon Rodriguez, Rosario Dawson, Carrie-Anne Moss & David Wenham. Created By: Scott Buck.
K.O.! Fists of fury fly as Marvel's one punch man finally claims his golden ticket a few courses away from the hand of the devils kitchen. All striking for his defence and fight for NYC. It's time. The back four of 'The Defenders' is complete before the eighth wonder of their Summer season plays the Ripley games of 'Alien' legend Sigourney Weaver. Still despite the assembling success of Marvel and Netflix's street-level superhero team-up, critics don't want to hand it to the last Defender. Instead they are throwing jabs at the 'Iron Fist' and Danny Rand is finding it hard to bob and weave. Lucky 'Game Of Thrones' star Finn Jones remembers his training. And that the legend of Marvel's Iron Fist began back in the seventies...no modern day appropriation. Even if critics are calling whitewashing like fellow Marvel Black Widow, Scarlett Johansson's 'Ghost In The Shell' manga anime live action remake. Sure there is definitly some ground for at the very passive racial discrimination. But in defence of these Defenders look what Marvel did with the unbreakable 'Luke Cage', the 'Jessica Jones' P.I. reveal and of course the blind ambition of 'Daredevil' (another martial arts expert like his energetic partner Elektra). But any critic calling this actually compelling set of (unlucky for some) 13 episodes bland don't have a leg to stand on when it comes to Rand's enterprise. And those white boy billionaire Trump comparisons? We won't go as far as to label it fake news. But what about that other billionaire, playboy superhero with a Stark Tower in New York? This glowing 'Iron Fist' pulls no punches even if critics are packing a wallop.
Good job Finn Jones knows Kung-Fu. And how to rock the Justin Timberlake N*Sync days blonde noodle curls. He really is taking it back to the days of 'The Matrix' (even 'Jessica Jones'' Carrie-Anne Moss is back, never one to dodge legal proceedings). Moving like Keanu in bullet time. From the first shot of the iconic 'Game Of Thrones' dark world style, meets martial arts ballet in a Turner painting over the skyline of New York theme, to all the fight scenes straight out of the hand-to-hand consoles of a video game. From hallway hatchets that rachet up the action ante, to unlimited cage fighting and iron link champion boss levels directed by 'The Man With The Iron Fists' himself. None other but the Wu-Tang Clan's RZA, straight outta Shaolin. Finn is emotionally engaged as well even if some times he comes across complaining like a spoilt brat with his new toy like he was holding Thanos' infinity gauntlet...hey he is a boy born into being a billionaire after all. More Iron Man than Ip Man, yet this "child touched by fire" sets alight this graphic, comic-book world that's not suitable for bed wetters. In each fighting style named episode, from Chinese New Year carnival chase clashes in Chinatown, to Samurai swords fights in the night rain of Central Park as atmospherically dramatic as the time 'The Wolverine' did this big in the temples of Tokyo, Japan. Baring it's knuckles this Iron Fist clenched by creator Scott Buck has a lot behind it. Espeically in the year that began with one last time for Hugh Jackman's 'Logan' and will soon dominate the seasons from volume two of the 'Guardians Of The Galaxy', to Thor's 'Ragnarok' team-up with the Hulk and Doctor Strange. Not to mention the long-awaited Marvel 'Homecoming' for Spider-Man. And that's just the blockbusting big screen. On the crisp smart-phone level this Defender starts the year of their Avenger like assembling, before Jon Bernthal's Frank Castle brings more binge watching punishment until your skull can't take the heat anymore. And you thought the 'Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.' had it good, rolling shotgun with the Ghost Rider. Well Netflix's Marvels are igniting too...and it's all in the palm of their hands.
Helping hands come in many 'guises for the Fist however. Especially in the form of a familiar foe from another show (no, no not The Punisher...don't let your gun go off). It's a relief Rosario Dawson's Rachel McAdams rivalling Night Nurse is back to patch and link-up all the Defenders before she joins them again in being the only character to appear in all six series'. Just imagine how the beds in her apartment will look like when her guerilla surgery skills have to tend to all the Defenders all at the same time. She isn't the only heroine helping the cause however. More aid comes from the Jessica's. Henwick and Stroup. Finn Jones' 'Thrones' co-star Jessica Henwick peaks Black Widow's a## kicking and even quivers Chloe Bennett's Quake. The X-Wing pilot from 'Star Wars' really is an awakening force at Kiefer Sutherland 24 years of age, giving a hand to Rand...and some love interest too. You could cut the sexual tension between these warriors spirits with a Katana. '90210' and 'The Following's Jessica Stroup is more of a boardroom brawler mind and the emotional family catalyst of this drama that actually aside from what they say is one of Marvel/Netflix's best, brilliant backstories yet. Alongside her on-screen brother, the instantly recognisable and vocal Tom Pelphrey who now will be so for this. A scene stealing enigmatic favourite who we are with no matter how many times he slips between the dark side and redemeption as many times as his slicked back, GQ suit matching, tailored business cut ends up looking like the hair of Percy Wetmore in 'The Green Mile'. But boy if you thought he was sort of bad in a series of uncivil good versus evil war were you can't make rolling heads or twisted tails of which side you're on, then just wait until you see the sins of the father. As '300' and Oscar nominated movie 'Lion' dad David Wenham is rip-roaring as a beast of a bad man just waiting to be let out of his Gatsby lonely, art deco penthouse cage. Even 'Transformers' and 'The Taking Of Pelham 1 2 3' support star Ramon Rodriguez's mysterious character has nothing on the meat and potato straight-forward hands of Welham who ham-fists one hell of death-defying human villain. Smack-dab in the middle of a Norman Osborne like characterization and a dark tower for a business as powerful and absolutely corrupting as Oscorp down the road. All in all these hands rock the critics cradle and anyone who finds this show boring may actually in turn need to wake up to this slap and high kick across the face. Because Marvel's Iron Fist hits you in ways no other Netflix show has concluding this solo legion of a group of avenging outsiders. Trumping any notion that this sky-scraping name is a Donald, Finn Jones' Danny Rand strives to be more than just his name, or the Iron Fist. No matter how many zeroes come after his name or the weight of gold light on his wrist. Perhaps it's not appropriate that this hero that honors martial arts and doesn't take from it is not Asian. But in origin sticking to the roots of character Marvel still pays homage to where martial arts comes from. And coming from within too it balances it all out like Chi, showing that anyone can be learn this art form as long as they pay their due respect. And that respect is measured in dedication without distinction. But remember no matter how strong the Iron Fist is. No student is a master quite like their sensei. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
See This If You Liked: 'Daredevil', 'Jessica Jones', 'Luke Cage'.
Sunday, 19 March 2017
129 Minutes. Starring: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Kevin Kline, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Ian McKellen & Emma Thompson. Director: Bill Condon.
Beauty begins again as Disney go into live action beast mode with their Belle of the ball. And you're their guest Princess Hermione. 10 points to Emma Watson. She may not be the face of the 'Harry Potter' saga anymore, but she is the yellow dress of this fantastic 'Beauty and the Beast' thread of a classic coming into her own weaving and waltzing light. Shining in this Spring post Summer blockbuster that will last in theatres into the Winters beyond June. In a story as old as time. Or the original animated classic from 1991 itself. A roaring success from Disney that became the first animation in movie history to be nominated for the Best Picture Academy Award. This Oscar darling almost had it if it wasn't for those lambs that like to keep quiet and Hopkins' Hannibal beast with even more of an appetite. This monster almost even beat Schwarzenegger's 'Terminator' box-office machine. Fast forward to the Cybernet future of 2017 and on this judgement day this rebooted remake may just go down as the greatest Disney live-action film yet, again years before 'The Lion King' is set to make us proud. No matter how good fellow princess 'Cinderella', last years 'Jungle Book', or even Angelina Jolie's 'Maleficent' is. Certainly this film is on record to be the most successful live cinematic take yet...and you can expect it to flood the next Academy with awards that gleam like that iconic dress as well as the ticket gates. You really can't lock this beast away. Think you can? Be our guest!
Beautiful in her grace and humility, 'Harry Potter' megastar Emma Watson has just found a new franchise for her face as she really is the Belle for this ball. And oh how she is having one too. Singing and dancing like clockwork with candlesticks. No wonder she and the work and rug cut out for her passed on Emma Stone's 'La La Land' Oscar winning role alongside Ryan Gosling. In love with more than just an ugly duckling, this Emma has never had this much fun. And she's the effervescent energy and luminous light in potentially one of Disney's darkest sagas of their storied history made even more live action real and raw. If you thought 'Snow White' brought it to your castle door with the soldiers of 'The Huntsman', then just wait until this princess with a palace as iconic as the one on the Walt Disney introduction I.D. with a ring of roses around it. And we'll all fall down and in love with this. And it's not a case of Stockholm Syndrome. More a dream, in vision made up once upon a time by 'Dreamgirls' director Bill Condon, who also shone a light on the nightwalkers of the first two 'Twilight' epics...arguably the best ones. What? You going to go with the last ones epic end that was just a dream? This films finale is much more fitting. You've never seen last waltz's so wonderful without a glass slipper. Your eyes have never been glazed this much since Simba clawed on for dear life like Bambi's mum. You've never sung along this much since 'Frozen'...and yes, we're sure that remake is coming but for now it has to wait in line...let it go! Right now live action Disney films have never looked so real...or genuinely magical.
Beastly as he may seem, 'The Guest' star Dan Stevens really is the prince host of this picture that would be king. The 'Downton Abbey' star currently moonlighting for FX as a legacy made Marvel mutant in 'Legion' really is effecting something much more special here. The Great Brit knows how to play it up to the ham, like his Knight exhibition in 'Night Of The Museum-Secret Of The Tomb'. But here this hairy man in the mirror with horns knows how to reflect the deeper, realer anguish of a man made monster by a curse kissed from the thorns of a rose. Wilting before our eyes his motion capture goes from white dots and green screen to weeping and seeing to be believed in all it's beauty of each and every emotion. This man truly is a beast in more ways than one. Showing not only the tortured soul of torment behind the fur, but the warmth too. Watson may be the star power, but Stevens has the strength to shoot for more. And there's plenty more room on the table for a growing guestlist. Like the ever-glad Josh Gad. Already a Disney legend for his iconic Olaf snowman built of 'Frozen's' mass merchandised, powerhouse popularity, he now makes an even greater legacy of change, playing Disney's first openly gay character. Perfect alongside a man who is in real-life, Luke Evans. Here 'Dracula' plays the villain Gaston with untold brilliance, something like a 'Baston'. With the cocksure, 'Captain Morgan' fuelled arrogance of a man who thinks he really did slay a dragon like in 'The Hobbit's' 'Desolation Of Smaug'. No wonder Belle's father Kevin Kline is in and out with his blessings. But you have to hand it to all Kline does do that to here. Because we haven't loved this man this much since 'Last Vegas'. There's more chips off the old block, or clock as Sir Ian McKellen plays Cogsworth, moving hands like Magneto aswell as hearts. Whilst Ewan McGregor makes a French candlestick funny, scene stealing favourite and as much fun as the time he spent a night in the 'Moulin Rogue'. As the one for Ewan is a feather duster who goes by the name of the great Gugu Mbatha-Raw. An actress who made her name in no other but a film called 'Belle'. There's even enough notes for a stunning Stanley Tucci to get his teeth into the keys of a piano man with a Beethoven wig that would make his 'Hunger Games' host jealous. But it's Emma Watson's old 'Harry Potter' alumni Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts that really is just the cup of tea. As 'Nanny McPhee' is fantastic in singing the Celine Dion 'Beauty and the Beast' theme song as old as rhyme. Forget John Legend and Arian Grande. I'd know who I'd more like to have a brew with. This beast really is a chip off the old block. As tested as time itself. Because some love stories happy endings we're made to last no matter how they look. And there's nothing more beautiful than that. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
See This If You Liked: 'Harry Potter', 'Maleficent', 'Cinderella (2015)'.
Friday, 17 March 2017
103 Minutes. Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford, Caleb Landry Jones, Stephen Root, Milton Howrey, LaKeith Stanfield & Catherine Keener. Director: Jordan Peele.
Peel back the layers of Jordan Peele's scary comedy 'Get Out' and it's onion crying horror hypnosis and you'll see the key to this trumped up satire that breaks down all sorts of walls and boundaries and holds a black mirror up to 'The Donald', or as some people call him; The President Of The (United) States. White privilege can go f### itself! It just got revoked! 'Guess Who'! No we're not asking you that exactly, more if you remember the early 2000's 'Meet The Parents' esque, coming to dinner comedy starring the late, great king of comedy Bernie Mac? The one where Zoe Saldana invites boyfriend Ashton Kutcher for a weekend away to introduce him to her folks and he asks the immortal question..."did you tell them I was white"!? Well Peele flips that as Daniel Kaluuya (who partnered up with Emily Blunt in 'Sicario' and will probably receive more face time in the sequel now) does the family thing with his 'Girl' Allison Williams. Heading to a white picket fence hiding suburbia that may aswell come with a burning cross on the lawn. Because it's not just institutionalised ignorance that lives here when there are servants on the property owned by a father who thinks it's no "thang" (and I'm quoting here). In this haunted house of passive racism, one half of 'Key and Peele' sketch show genius Jordan aggressively attacks this and any tired, discriminating notion that still exists in an abusive, not so free world today lead by a p### grabbing bully of a president who can't even be real about his own haircare. Out with combing over the bull####! Get into this!
Unconventional as it is this is still a horror movie in all it's string twitch, jump moments and hallmark genre tricks and tropes. From people at the window to down the hall. No stone or dark corner unturned. And a horrendously good horror movie it is at that too. Killing it on the usual movie hype attacking Rotten Tomatoes at 99% after days of keeping it at 100. Want to put that into perspective? Have you heard of that other film out this week? Something called 'Beauty and the Beast' by some folks called Disney? Starring young actress Emma Watson who was apparantly in this thing about wizards? Well that currently lies at 69 percentile. SPLAT! 'Get Out' is a roaring success, screaming like bringing home a boyfriend to your parents whose hair is longer than yours and says he's between jobs, but he really means bands as he greets your dads introducing handshake with a slap of five. Feel the unclenching of the binge watching, whitewashed 'Iron Fist'? Then chill with Netflix and marvel at this. As Jordan Peele goes from televison sketch show success as a double act to first full feature film direct all by himself, just like it was all meant to be. The comic gives us something genius after moving on from big screen team-ups for fans of films and felines named after their favourite 'John Wick' and 'Matrix' actors, with one hell of a first impression in the directors chair. From now on the man who wants to make more scary movies (un)like a Wayans' trailers could come with one of those pretentious "from visionary' director intro-tags that usually come along with alt-horror creep show masterminds like Guillermo Del Toro ('Crimson Peak') and Gore Verbinski ('A Cure For Wellness' (cue more deer in the most eye widening headlights here)). And it wouldn't be a joke. Peele belongs with the greatest when it comes to making modern horrors that don't fall into the 'Saw' and 'Ring', can't tell one sequel from another cliche that does the originators like 'The Shining', 'Carrie' and 'The Thing' et al anything but proud. This is the best horror with more to it since the late Anton Yelchin in one of his last films tried to escape fellow Starfleet Academy member Patrick Stewart's 'Green Room'. But in another four walls of horror that will leave you cowering and doubting the chance of escape as much as your armchair crawling hoping for it, this film keeps you guessing as much as it does cheering for it's horror hallmark homages that are given a whole new dedication and distinction from Peele. Jordan rules as he knows how to bring the true shock and awe nature of horror movies in so many ways. You just don't know how and when you'll scream...but oh how you will. It's coming.
And what a cast to hold you to this like a broken leg in a home life that is straight polished wood and picture frame misery by the brimstone fireplace, even more psycho than Bates. Matter of fact there's more to this cast than meets the eye for a role call of actors so recognisable and real you could have swore you had seen them before in more. Take the lead Daniel Kaluuya of British 'Black Mirror' and 'Skins' fame (see also, Nicholas Hoult). He's been working on his American accent from 'Sicario' to the attention of Samuel L. Jackson, but that aside Kaluuya makes this movie his own and is brilliant in a breakout that's just as much his as Jordan's. One scene tea stirred to a chair truly has you in its hypnosis until your eyes water. He makes us really see and look for Peele's unfolding vision in this instant, iconic classic for the modern mainstream. Whilst 'Girls' star and NBC anchor Brian Williams' daughter Allison Williams holds her own, setting a course for her future leading lady lights in movies. One particular scene involving 80's music on the iPod, hair tied back for bed, cross-legged, sweatpant comfy, scrolling through her laptop speaks on so many satirical levels in a film choked full of inspired and incendiary imagery that we can't reveal to spoil but shows you so much more. Here however Allison's father isn't political reporter Williams, but Whitford. Bradley Whitford. The man you know as Josh from President Sheen's 'West Wing'. And should have know from Aaron Sorkin's underrated and unfairly canned Hollywood follow up 'Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip', alongside the Bing of Matthew Perry. This performance like that reminds you why we should see more of Bradley like his second name was Cooper, before his receeding hair and beard get anymore Kenny Rogers. He's a revelation here alongside an equally suburban sinister Catherine Keener. The 'Into The Wild' actress who played Robert Downeg Jr.'s (ex) wife in 'The Soloist' helps sway us towards this narrative as compelling as her soothing cadence. Speaking of voices, 'X-Men's Banshee; Caleb Landry Jones is first class as a bothersome brother who will leave you screaming. Whilst classic character actor Stephen Root drives this extended family tree deeper underground. But it's Donald Glover's 'Atlanta' co-star LaKeith Stanfield-who was so convincing as Snoop Dogg in the N.W.A. 'Straight Outta Compton' movie-who really draws your gaze for his look and true to formidable form act. That is until comedian 'Lil Rel' Milton Howrey steals the show with some howling moments and even more comic relief as anything but the streotypical best friend. Because Jordan's film is all about slamming stereotypes...not reinforcing them. And by the time he's done so everyone else who thought they could get away with backwards discrimination and racism will be. They'll be the one that will really be told to 'Get Out' from this statement of filmmaking. How about it? Here's to a horror movie that shows you just how horrible and terrifying everything really is. No behind the couch bull####. Do you get this? It's like nothing else out there. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
See This If You Liked: 'Keanu', 'Guess Who', 'Knock, Knock'.
Thursday, 9 March 2017
Planet Of The Ape.
118 Mins. Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, Tony Kebbell, Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, Shea Wigham, Jing Tian, John Ortiz, Richard Jenkins & John C. Reilly. Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts.
'King Kong' 'aint got s### on this! Hollywood will always love monkeying around. From 'Lord Of The Rings' director Peter Jackson's epic 2005 adaptation to all those damned, dirty apes warring with this planet. But now after climbing the biplane circling Empire State, this beast has a whole 'Skull Island' of his own. The return of the King see's Kong chest thumping mighty enough to grapple with a 'Godzilla' resurgence (there's even a direct copy of the nuclear testing reference and line about that actually being an attempt to kill the beast (is there something going on here?), albeit delivered just as good by Goodman) or 'Pacific Rim' uprising...if only we could ever get the cinematic crossover we really want. Instead back in Vietnam, Captain Marvel, Brie Larson and Loki, Tom Hiddleston face an apocalypse right now (you've seen the incredible homaged posters as wall worthy as the Japanese manga ones) with Nick Fury, AKA Samuel L. Jackson. A year before their avenging 'Infintiy War' with Marvel. But as of right now in this dawn of the 'War Of The Planet Of The Apes' it looks like Hollywood's la la land is taking it back to the classic mainstream, monster, blockbuster disaster movies from the past. With this, those other chimps and Hollywood's most famous franchise face across the generations, Tom Cruise unwrapping a new 'Mummy' movie this Summer. But this...this is the daddy. The father of big budget, thrills and spills, popcorn popping movie invention. A motion picture icon as big in American entertainment culture as Babe Ruth, Frank Sinatra or Cary Grant...no stranger to evading planes himself. From 1933 to now 84 years later...Kong the once and future king. All hail.
"GET TO THE PART WERE HE CHOPS DOWN HELICOPTERS:! We hear you cry! The palm tree, 'in your face' javelin. The Federer back-hand. The two fisted childs tantrum slam down. The Chicago Cub swing strike right out of Wrigley Field. And let's not even talk about inking octopus predators fates and making a meal out of them like spaghetti. This monkey business is no shrieking cheap toy with symbols...and all the Hollywood stars vying for top banana with the king know this. Like low key action hero Tom Hiddleston. The Loki star of the Marvel Avenger Universe going from a 'I Love Taylor Swift' t-shirt to muscling out of one. In this movieworld's park his wardrobe is Alan Grant minus the canvas stetson. 'The Night Manager' has just found himself a new day job with something even scarier than 'Crimson Peak'. But make 'Room' for Oscar winner Brie Larson, almost in a Laura Dern 'Jurassic Park' role complete with blue vest and red room ready camera. Loki and your new Captain Marvel would never get this close in the 'Avengers-Infintiy War', but here Larson and Hiddleston raise more 'will they/wont they' questions than which of the many A-list actors here are on the menu. O.K Kong for starters we have John Goodman. Fresh off his 'Patriots Day' call to honor turn and on fine form still, reuniting with his and Mark Wahlberg's 'Gambler' co-star Brie Larson. Sending her and Tom on this wild ape chase expedition through the helicopter descending jungles like...well John Hammond. And if you haven't had your fill of 'Jurassic Park' references. The man who is in everything Samuel L. Jackson gives us his best in years. Even offering you some easter egg chocolate in the form of bringing back his fond, favourite "hold onto your butts line". It's not like he gets to drop two many F-bombs here with all those munitions. But madder than the time his inflight movie was cancelled, Jackson wants to get this mother###### ape off this mother####### island like those snakes. Not to mention tree tall spiders, more prehistoric looking birds and some skull crawling monsters that make those 'Godzilla' moth things look like they could be taken out by a light bulb. Any ideas?
Here's a few more. Tony Kebbell who was a devestatingly good Doom in the 'Fantastic Four' flop reboot affects more heads by soldiering up as a character with more heart. Whilst Asian actress of the moment Jing Tian continues her Hollywood takeover with this, her 'Great Wall' with Matt Damon building now and of course the forthcoming 'Pacific Rim: Uprising' sequel as she stands tall next to Chrysler covering central characters. This movie even picks up a few actors with attitude, straight out of the breakout N.W.A. movie. As 'Straight Outta Comptons' Dr. Dre (Corey Hawkins) and Eazy E (Jason Mitchell) bring some science and silly respectively to this seriously good blockbuster that never takes itself far too seriously. That is until 'Boardwalk Empire' star Shea Whigham goes all Stephen Merchant in 'Logan'. No spoilers but the fact that you see both these things in the trailer is as amazing as the scene itself, as Shea is his best since his support in 'The Lincoln Lawyer' and 'Silver Lingings Playbook'. Speaking of which, regular character actor John Ortiz shows up for a bit as set piece bait as this film brings everyone on board. Even the ever-good Richard Jenkins gets some senator lines in before they set sail. But its 'Step Brothers' and 'The Lobster' star John C. Reilly, gone Dennis Hopper hell for leather crazy in the jungle like his beard that steals the show. And every scene he brings his trademark nuanced and underrated helpings of humor and heart to. This film packs a wallop in all corners. And in dropping napalm and "scientific instruments" back in the jungles of Vietnam, it has a lot to say and scathe about not only that war, but the one today between animal and man that goes beyond territorial claims, or the cinematic shades and sunsets of 'Apocalypse Now' references that will resonate long after their first impression. This monkey leaves one hell of a footprint. 'The Kings Of Summer' dynamite director Jordan Vogt-Roberts may have just found his one with the crown of this seasons blockbuster bunch that has already come early, in the Spring we wish we could only see outside with the in cinemas now releases of 'Logan' and 'John Wick: Chapter 2'. But this is the real myth. The real legend. No man can render this epic creature fear extinct. We're going to need a bigger monster. Now what does that sound like? Chest thumping fun?! Kong is king...hear him ROAR! TIM DAVID HARVEY.
See This If You Liked: 'King Kong', 'Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes', 'Godzilla'.
Wednesday, 1 March 2017
Black History Must.
4 Episodes. Starring: Malachi Kirby, Emayatzy Corinealdi, Anika Noni Rose, Rege-Jean Page, Matthew Goode, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Anna Paquin, Tony Curran, Cliff 'T.I.' Harris, Derek Luke, Mekhi Phifer, Mandela Van Peebles, Sedale Threatt Jr., Forest Whitaker & Laurence Fishburne (Narrator). Executive Producer: LeVar Burton.
Like the rose that grew from concrete, the 'Roots' of this History Channel revival of the 1977 groundbreaking miniseries is beauty and strength bore from the hardest of trapped times. Making this all too real account a must this Black History Month. Now it's almost bordering on ignorant disrespect to say, "if you liked '12 Years A Slave' then you'll like this". These type of historical dramas from small to big screen aren't exactly what you could call, or term "enjoyable". Yet just like 'Schindlers List' account of the absolutely evil persecution of Jews in the second World War, it's necessary viewing. Essential in terms of education and learning, from young to old. So we can all be taught how to treat people better. Whether in regards to our blind ignorance or blatant rage. From people of different races and religions, to men and women, whatever the age. This is more than being rawly reminded that the n-word is a abhorrent and horrible as the people that use it as a weapon, no matter how many times you hear it in a rap record, or mainstream movie. This is a wake up call in the terrible Trump-era that all men...and women are created equal...and will always remain so under the eyes of God, the highest power. It's getting deep and heavy now, but time and tide such is life at the moment. We need these 'Roots' of historical storytelling more than ever right now. Especially as the Sundance runaway hard-hitting hit 'Birth Of A Nation' (which took it's title from an old, outright disgusting Klan movie and flipped it with a middle finger) has been cut down from everyone from critic to Oscar (even in the year the Academy finally got it right (aside from the envelope) and honored movies like 'Moonlight', 'Fences' and 'Hidden Figures') due to the controversial past of actor/writer/director Nate Parker who was accussed of rape and later acquited, though his accuser commited suicide recently. Whatever the opinion or truth, 'Nation' is also critical viewing that now remains unseen. Yet the story of the slave rebellion lead by Nat Turner is here in part in this four episode miniseries which takes us back to the story of the man that will always be known as Kunta Kinte.
Never Toby! Now today you may know the genuinely affecting actor LeVar Burton from being the iconic visor wearing Geordi LaForge in 'The Next Generation' of 'Star Trek'. But his roots belong to the indelible image of his hands bound together on the front cover/poster for the original 1977 series. For he played the young lead of 'Roots', Kunta Kinte. And play it did he with pure passion and personification. Now a remarkable 40 years later he starts the revolution again, serving as executive producer. Outstanding in his overseeing of a series that features different, dynamic directors like the maverick actor turned behind the scenes Mario Van Peebles. Now Burton plays the background too it's up to young actor Malachi Kirby to trace the roots of Kinte. The London kid who made his bones in British shows like 'Eastenders' and 'Doctor Who' matures massively over just a few episodes, albeit hour and a half ones that serve as mini-movies all in themselves. Malachi is a revolution as Kunta. Even owning the incendiary "tell me your name" scene with harrowing haunts of the old, yet now with a brutal new level of hard hitting, graphic violence that is just too much to take. Alex Haley's novelized, storied saga focusses on family and this acclaimed adaptation features such. Emayatzy Corinealdi is brilliant as Kinte's beautiful bride Belle. Whilst 'A Raisin In The Sun' play and 'Dreamgirls' star Anika Noni Rose stirs the soul and every emotion as their daughter Kizzy sold to a different plantation and sicker than sick slave owner. Her son 'Chicken George', played excellently by young Maxwell lookalike Rege-Jean Page fights with effervescent charisma and his story cooped into the world on cock-fighting is one of frustrating clipped wings spread as far as they can go. That's quite a lot to take and this explicit 'Roots' weeds out everything at a relentless pace. To show both all the story compressed in six hours worth of screen-time and just how bad it all was, every little bit. No holes barred so we can really see.
Meanwhile on the utterly wrong side of history 'Watchmen' Matthew Goode is just so good at showing us just how bad it really was. Just like Tony Curran's vile character, an actor who has already shown us in just one episode of 'Daredevil' how close he can get to Satan himself, torturing The Punisher of all people. But he's nothing compared to Jonathan Rhys-Meyers' slave owner of pure, purile evil. It takes an awful lot for Rhys-Meyers to be this horrible. He literally treats even the slaves he likes like collateral...to hell with the damage. Thank goodness for 'X-Men' star Anna Paquin gone rogue...igniting everything she touches. Or the length and breadth of a great cast who portray just a footnote fraction of all the boldy brave men and women who endured and then overcame slavery. From rapper T.I., government actor name Clifford Harris-currently starring alongside singer/actor Jamie Foxx in the cop/crime drama 'Sleepless'-who has been doing this since his impressive turn in Denzel Washington's 'American Gangster'. To even a sensational, strong in the face of tyranny Sedale Threatt Jr. the son of a former Los Angeles Lakers swingman from the NBA of around '96. Even director Peebles' children get a look in with the mesmerizing Mandela Van Peebles playing the type of people that would make Nelson proud. There's even more big names of recognition thanks to 'Antwone Fisher' star Derek Luke who displays a sincerity of strength, despite being shackled and drawn to a slave ship. Whilst former 'E.R.' lead and '8 Mile' and 'Clockers' star Mekhi Phifer clocks his best screen time in years, reminding us all just how underrated an actor he is regardless of race or status in the industry. The legends are here too however, as Forest Whitaker-who from 'Arrival' to 'Rogue One: A Star Wars Story' has been racking up some of the best pictures of last year-plays Fiddler, a violinist with beautiful changing tunes of passion and restraint. Forest's gumption here is undeniable. Whitaker in this multi-character piece akin to his Lee Daniels 'Butler' lead, performs like he's conducting this whole thing, but pays respect to his audience and orchestra of fellow players. And it all comes note right together under both the moving melody of music from Amir 'Questlove' Thompson, the drummer of no other but, The Roots and the spine-tingling narration of 'Blackish' sitcom star and storyteller Laurence Fishburne, currently in cinemas reunited with 'Matrix'- co-star Keanu Reeves for 'John Wick: Chapter Two'. A broad baritone to make both James Earl Jones and Morgan Freeman proud. These 'Roots' are stories that need to be retold and told again. Even if the force of which hits you more like a blunt instrument than a wake up call. Sometimes only the truest take proves a worthy testament and this revival recognises it's perfect predecessor with homaged honor. Now hopefully this almost 50 year story of centuries gone will grown and grow until all the ignorance wilts. And the roots of something much more beautiful can bloom. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
See This If You Liked: 'Birth Of A Nation', '12 Years A Slave', 'The Butler'.
Tuesday, 28 February 2017
Old Man Jackman.
137 Mins. Starring: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen, Boyd Holbrook, Eriq La Salle, Stephen Merchant & Richard E. Grant. Director: James Mangold.
SNIKT! Savour that sound. Because this is the last time you're going to hear from The Wolverine, Hugh Jackman. 17 years. The year 2000. Before the 'Origins' of the 'X-Men' trilogy came the original in these 'Days Of Future Past'. B.D.J. Before Downey Jr. Before Iron Man. Before the Marvel Studios cinematic universe. Fox had the wolf. It's been a long time. But this is it. Ever since Hugh Jackman teased his 'One Last Time' as 'Logan', The Wolverine with an Instagram photo of him holding up his middle claw, father time has been ticking its hands and delicate fingers. Two decades. Almost twenty years. How do you survive all the Professor Xavier's and Magneto's? From Stewart to McAvoy. Fassbender to McKellen. You have to have adamantium skin. And this Australian is indestructible as the Canadian lone wolf superhero. Going down and under, all the way up north and even further east. As after the terrific trilogy that climaxed in him burning with the Phoenix, Jackman was still jacked up and ready for his own fun and fancy 'Origins' film that introduced us to a certain way of Wade Wilson played by charismatic motormouth merc Ryan Reynolds. And after a cameo in the rebooted trilogy that was truly 'First Class', Hugh helped bring everything together, old and confusing timeline new for the best X film, 'Days Of Future Past'. The clawed Canuck-who we wish we could just see alongside the rest of Marvel's Avengers like Spider-Man's homecoming, rights be damned-also, with a cutting cameo saved last years X-Men trilogy conclusion mess that has now lead to a much smaller screen from truly being an 'Apocalypse'. But now in an apocalyptic New Mexico of 2029 there's only a few mutants left amongst the last of us. And this 'Leon' like story sees him playing protector and guardian come hell or high water to an X23 snikt replacement that's like him, very much like him. In this no country for old man Logan X-Men that is just as much a neo-western as it is a superhero movie. A neo-comic book classic that is just as much a 'Best Picture' candidate just days after all that Oscar confusion as it is a balls and blood out 'John Wick: Chapter 2' early blockbuster starter before the web crawler, norse God and 'Guardians' take over for Volume 2.
After making 'The Wolverine' big in Japan with the Logan in translation trip to the neon rain and Samurai slicing gore of Tokyo, Hugh Jackman reunites with 'Walk The Line' director James Mangold for some wild west 'Hurt' over Johnny Cash. Typography set to some white on black lettering akin to the Man In Black's coming around, late, great 'American Recordings' classic set. And complete with a Rick Rubin beard, Logan's last run borders on the brutal and beautiful with as much tears as blood shed and spilt. And yes Bub it's an R rated affair thanks to the X Force of the fourth wall and genre breaking 'Deadpool', who wants to go all 'Batman v Superman' in his own comic crossover with Logan's dog tags and villain beater, tank top. But alas there's probably more chance of seeing yellow spandex (if only) like a 'Wolverine' deleted scene. The People Magazine cut-out mask will have to suffice. But if this is Logan's last call is it the 'Death Of Wolverine'? As this movie adaptation of the 'Old Man Logan' graphic novels-that even breaks all walls with some real life X-Men comics-comes to a conclusion as emotional as it is epic. Either way it's going to be sad as Hugh Jackman was born to play Logan's Wolverine, like Chris Pratt's Star-Lord, Robert Downey Jr's Tony Stark's Iron Man and no one before him. Or even after. No matter how good a choice Tom Hardy (who probably dropped out of Oscar Isaac's Apocalypse role for a slice of the claws) seems. Next to Hugh, Bane has no voice. And the gravelly voiced ageing Logan is still driven behind Jackman's raw, disgruntled passion to do good...even if it looks like he doesn't give a f###. Yeah there's more F-bombs here. What do you exepect when you're chasing a major case of arthritis in the knuckles with kissed whiskey? Or if you've gone from the Academy of Gifted Youngsters to driving school for limos. Chauffering round some entitled millennial brats on stag and hens in the lonesome state of Texas. Rolling up the privacy window divide to spend some alone time with Jack or Jim riding shotgun. From the El Paso desert to another across state and border control lines. And all the singing, all dancing, Jackman of all trades Broadway performer and Academy actor knows how to get to the bare bones of his comic book character, beyond the adamantium for his realest role and best howl at the wolf yet...no sheepish, suit clothing. If this really is the last cut...then it's his deepest yet.
Just look at the blades running through henchmens heads closer than a Mach 3 shave. As Mangold follows his Japanese red tide of the rising sun with real gold in the desert, he fan service gives us Wolverines just deserves for one of the best superhero movies of all-time, directed like an Oscar nominee. Top five with those 'Guardians Of The Galaxy' A-holes, 'The Avengers' in 'Captain America-Civil War', the even better 'Winter Soldier' and of course 'The Dark Knight'...because "Why So Serious" aside, we couldn't leave the dark and decadent D.C. out. No one is left out here though in this academy of gifted actors of Marvel. For this isn't just Hugh's swan song. It's Sir Pat Stew's last one too, as he revealed on an interview last week. As the classicaly trained Patrick Stewart who has made his Professor X character as legendary as his 'Star Trek' Captain Picard makes it so here. Permanently passing the torch and Charles Xavier pattened hereditary baldness onto the next generation of James McAvoy. But here he still energizes a 90 year old X, even if he is diminished by dementia. Stewart is still strong even with cerebral problems that turn his telekinesis into electromagnetic quakes. No wonder the wheelchair and now bed bound mutant resides in a toppled over and dried out water tower for something end of days evoking epic and now Marvel lore iconic. He's not the only British actor in a New Mexico flick that features few Americans over the wall...except one curiously called Donald. After being an accented addition to the Kennedy Administration in the Oscar nominated 'Jackie', Richard E. Grant is as delightfully devilish a villain as he was 'The Scarlet Pimpernel'. But the best bad guy is 'Narcos' and 'Gone Girl' star and Reaver leader, Boyd Holbrook, stealing the show with a cyborg, Terminator like forearm (one of many references to Arnie's strong armed cyborg classic, like Jackman's jacked-up entrance in 'Apocalypse') in this judgement day for mutants being hunted by sentinels of their own kind. It's a complex cast, featuring Ricky Gervais' right hand 'Ladies Man' Stephen Merchant as a western stetson hankerchief and poncho, goggle wearing, yet still instantly recognisable albino mutant who shines like the sun he can't bear to be in. And former 'E.R.' star and novel writer Eriq La Salle, superb as a friendly face and help along the way who makes for one moving dinner table catch up to all the offset, buckshot, fast paced action. Himself horse kicking ass on his ranch with the blunderbuss. Yet it's the introduction of the new Wolverine Dafne Keen that is inspired without the new child star even uttering a single word. The stirring staring eyes of the soul say it all. As this Pringles and blood vessel popping kid shows she's the can't stop, real deal, not to be messed with. Kind of remind you of someone? Lost in the scenic setting woods, the timberwolf and pup tag team is the perfect prequel to her own X23 sequel (that should star Dafne decades later if she's still keen) that could also run for decades in 'Logan's' wake like those new Avenger comics. But now the claws have been passed what of Hugh and all that his true grit ripped, age-defying body of work could still do? 'Logan'...we wish you still had more time. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
See This If You Liked: 'The Wolverine', 'No Country For Old Men', 'Hell Or High Water'.
Monday, 27 February 2017
146 Minutes. Starring: Dane DeHaan, Mia Goth & Jason Isaacs. Director: Gore Verbinski.
Well, well, well. What do we have here? A shockingly cinematic horror. Terrifyingly more psychological than physical. Something that messes with your mind like Leonardo DiCaprio's 'Shutter Island', but treats it's patients warm bodies more than their cold brains. What in turn makes for quite a trip to the beautiful Swiss Alps that will leave your ears ringing 'till an ugly din. Close your eyes and mouth, hold your nose and breathe out until they POP! Because your head just may explode. Now exhale...relax if you can. Because this health spa is anything but a light vacation break. This is one retreat you just want to get away from. But no one ever leaves here. Sound familiar? Horrible? Creeping under your skin like a crawling virus, internal like bleeding? 'A Cure For Wellness'. It almost sounds ironic. It is...and borderline iconic. Not to mention psychotic. As this modern horror classic has all the trappings of an enclosure of claustraphobia that will even haunt your nightmares. And don't daydream through this one that on the surface looks like a picture postcard before you descend to the dark depth steps. Because this one will play tricks on your cerebellum. If you were afraid of the docs than you really are going to be now. And as for dentists, here's one procedure that will make you want to cancel your next appointment...for the next ten years. You'll just have had to have you fill on candy. Because this nothing sweet in this sinister picture that bores into you like a slow burn, no itching boredom. What more could you expect from a film that stars the great Dane DeHaan? A renaissance young man that from 'The Place Beyond The Pines' stirring score to the lonely 'Life' of Hollywood icon James Dean has haunted us with no end. Not to mention making Spider-Man's 'Amazing' nemesis the Green Goblin actually scarily ghasty. All after showing us some enhanced individuals aren't really superheroes in his no capes, no responsibility 'Chronicle' of power. But this leech is the apex predator.
What more do you expect when this horror film features names like Gore and Goth? From visionary 'The Ring' director Verbinski who knows how to scare you with just a videotape and a well no one would wish for. And rising fatal femme Mia Goth who haunts every scene she steals away with. Well...there you have it. Or do you? As there's more to this 'Wellness' than meets the screen shielded, scared eye. Because this is no haunted house. This institution is an asylum. Switzerland has never looked this scenic...or scary. As DeHaan's character travels here from the cold, steel suicide structures of Wall Street, New York to bring a business partners signature back. But has the key board member to the deal of his young companies lives gone off the dotted line? Has anyone who finds themselves inked in this mansion in the mountains with it's own young princess Rapunzel high in the castle just wishing she could let her hair down? A sterile, surgically precise place that is as cool and clinical as the classic cinematogtaphy here that should have found itself in its own Academy this weekend off. A place as potent as the pippette's that everyone takes twice a day. A blue vial choice as hallmark influenced identifying as that barb wire scratch on the back of the neck of those old 'War Of The Worlds' alienated humans. This old medical centre looking sanitorium has bespoke shades of 'Shutter Island'. Setting like in story. But there's much more that roams these halls than delirious patients and men in white coats. Getting right down to the cold metal of the set of surgical tools and all the therapies implemented and medicines admitted, there is a purification procedure and process that will leave you submerged in all sorts of tanks here. From glass display fish ones to submarine wheel locked chambers that come with a Pavlov cruel electric shock to the system. And what's with all those slimy creatures? There's more eels here than that 90's band that went to 'Susan's House'...are you sure you want to be alone tonight?
Because 'In Treatment' breakout star Dane DeHaan doesn't...but it's not like he has a choice in the matter. Still against his will, making his way through all these corridors the man that stole the show from Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, Jason Clarke, Guy Pearce and Jessica Chastain in 'Lawless' (not to mention Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper in 'Pines') shows he can lead a big budget film all on his own. Who else but the man that played a real 'Rebel Without A Cause'? And we'd follow the next young, great actor anywhere. Even through those doors marked 'Keep Out' that we scream at him behind our proverbial couches not to take us through. Yet still we can't stop too. His curiosity of character kills it. As ones again he nails the anxious passion and aggravated isolation like a hammer to the head as the tension turns like a vice grip he holds. When we first meet this Dane he's on a train bound for a deadline. Riding passenger with the tray table down is an assortment of mini-bar bottles, bags of sweets and potato chips and a patchwork of nicotine gum all in a Friday night in on your own, mini-coffee table mess. But his company heres a laptop of work and an iPhone that seems like he's having Siri try to find him the most insulting curse word. And in his suit and unsmart, loosened tie don't ask him the obvious, "business or pleasure" small-talk. His teenage-angst exhale already told you it was enough to ask him for his ticket like any other passenger. The young mans a mess. No professional. At least he puts the phone down business slick, such is the nature of his work. But this cool acting pro has a way of setting scene and character. And you'll stay with his deplorable one all the way to you see the heart of the real man that sold his soul for Fortune 500. The real DeHaan that comes out of all his characters genuine streaks. And as he goes from boys blazer to what may aswell be a straight jacket issue this actor/character is so complex he could almost even do this all on his own. But like he has the chance to. Magazine cover facade charming Jason Isaac's is running this show and spa and the former 'Harry Potter' bread and butter actor who was a force in his fast 'Fury' cameo is even more ferociously coherent here with more spotlight shine. And how about Mia Goth? Haunting all of her moments in this gothic psycho-horror. The off-screen beau to LeBeouf, DeHaan's 'Lawless' co-star may just be the next Mia Wasikowska...another 'Lawless' LaBeouf love interest. And here the Amish princess dressed Goth eloquently engrosses everyone, with equal mystery and intrigue. This weird wonder like DeHaan is a star of the future. And makes this picture perfectly peculiar. Even if Verbinski's vision that sets sail with saavy Sparrow eyes for aesthetics aboard the 'Pirates Of The Carribean' is rated R for raw. This atmospheric disturbia of acclaim takes a final fall in the third acts deeply dark and disgusting finale that makes all the terror that came before look tame. And yet this ending seems a little tacked on too in order to leave it on an island all on its own away from 'Shutter'. That aforementioned aside we still have the makings of a cult classic from the makings of the next great actor doing very well indeed. But with all this sickness and disease screened, when it comes to your recovery, can you take the cure? TIM DAVID HARVEY.
See This If You Liked: 'Shutter Island', 'Crimson Peak', 'Under The Skin'.
Sunday, 26 February 2017
8 Episodes. Starring: Tom Hardy, Oona Chaplin, David Hayman, Jessie Buckley, Stephen Graham, Tom Hollander, Michael Kelly & Jonathan Pryce. Director: Kristoffer Nyholm.
Gruelling menace runs ragged and red right through the BBC's gruesome, new 'Taboo' word like the strings of Max Richter's off the scale, underscoring soundtrack, until they are pulled taught tight. Thats the high tension in the networks latest serious serial of definitive drama with FX that could rival the ruthlessness of Idris Elba's 'Luther', complete with trappings of Benedict Cumberbatch's old 'Sherlock'...and an even bigger name like Baker Street too. As the Beeb manage to snare laconic, leading man extroadinaire Tom Hardy for more than a peak like his cameos in Cillian Murphy's 'Blinders' series. And the enigmatic actor of epic 'Dark Knight Rises', 'Bronson', 'Locke' and dual Kray twin legend plays a mysterious character making port and bringing big smoke and mirrors of magic to a foggy, forlorn, early 18th century old London town awash in darkness, debauchery and social scurvy. A corrupt capital from the crown to the company were you can't tell the difference between the aristocats and the whores. In this period piece they're ruffled and dressed as one and the same. But the solitary Hardy cuts a striking figure as James Delaney. With an all black top hat and cloaking top coat complete with a mead beard, jesters war paint and tribal tattoos to match, that hint at a life well travelled, offest by scars which show the service of slavery. But just what did the roots of this man see across continents in Africa? And what now, coming back in the wake of his fathers death does he want, if not the wealth he wades in? It's 'Taboo's secret subject that will torture you throughout like the iron and brimstone scenes of that very graphic nature in grotesque detail. But ask yourself, especially right now how will all this come together in this dis-United Kingdom?
Hardy hardly offers us any gems, not even a trinket until the finale jewel of the crown reveal that surprises you like sleight of hand. This man of few grunts groans through this lumbering narrative that ignites the slow burner genre like stirring gun powder with chlorate. In the mainstream, maverick 'Mad Max' reboot, his twin turn in 'Legend', his brute Bane in 'The Dark Knight Rises', the brutal 'Bronson', the wounded woe of 'Warrior', the solitary car set drive of the buckled up 'Locke', the brooding Brooklyn bartend of 'The Drop' and the raw 'Revenant' ravager against 'Inception' co-star Leonardo DiCaprio's Oscar win, Tom has made the Marlon mumbling his brand. And business is good. Booming on fact. That's what happens when your character comes across a small fortune from the father, just like this actors filmography has afforded. Here however Hardy has rarely been better. Each one of his careers complex characters and their murmurs have their own utterances, inflections and nuances...no droning incoherence. It's an inwardly influential, character study look at the sole confiments of a man lost in as much lonely isolation as he is mesmerizing mystery. It's just what makes this character as compelling as the chapters of this eight wonder series disguised as a mini-movie and the depth each hour episode brings over most mainstream movies. In this age of HBO's 'Game Of Thrones' this BBC new classic holds the crown with enough gold pieces to make more than heads roll. And with keeping Hardy with a seat at the foot of the table, dark director Kristoffer Nyholm and filmmaking legend Ridley Scott in the producers chair alongside Tom makes sure this developing drama and descent into darkness eats at you like the hog roasts of the pig rich and fat and the churning empty stomachs of the poor and soot dirty downtrodden. And 'Taboo's' terrifying subject matter drowns you like the haunting title sequence brutally below sea level.
But there's more here to get the meat hooks into you, with this creepily unsettling thriller that you have been nursing throught the dog, doldrum days of January and the winters bone of February. There's the equally as enigmatic and evocative Oona Chaplin, veiled in mystery and shrouded subplot. Is she his sister? His mistress? Or our souls be damned both? Just like another mysterious woman who enters the fray in the form of Jessie Buckely. An actress who has transitioned from talent show stage to British Broadcasting screen. Whilst David Hayman is a man of great service. The Alfred to Hardy's Delaney's Dark Knight. Haymaker tough. Just like Stephen Graham playing a pitbull of a character, the only thing tougher is his tattoo's as the 'Pirates Of The Carribean' and 'Public Enemies' familiar face is just one you can't forget. Just like another recognisable 'Pirates' crew member Tom Hollander. No...not new Spider-Man Tom Holland, but the 'Rev' that starred alongside Loki's Tom Hiddleston in last years BBC best 'The Night Manager'. Even 'Pirates Of The Carribean' star and old 'Tomorrow Never Dies' Bond villain Jonathan Pryce is here as the right man to be villain. A formidable foe to Hardy's anti-hero. The legend completes a cast so vast it even has room for some Hollywood players for it's American influence. As 'House Of Cards', 'Changeling' and 'The Adjustment Bureau' standout Michael Kelly scrubs in as a doc as surgically strange as his characters teeth that need their own visit to a dentist. This and all the actors aesthetics are applied right in this atmospheric period piece that smothers you with the fog of the old Big Smoke. But that's nothing compared to the eerie tide that comes in from the dock here. Washed up and wrung out this series will leave you wrenched and drenched...and you'll love it. Lets just hope amongst all this magic and madness permitting that the BBC, Ridley Scott and the terrific Tom Hardy make 'Taboo' the subject of a second season all the more sweetly sinister. Let's hope it's not forbidden. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
See This If You Liked: 'Peaky Blinders', 'Luther', 'Lawless'.
Saturday, 25 February 2017
133 Mins. Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Kevin Bacon, J.K. Simmons, Michelle Monaghan, Melissa Benoist, Michael Beach & John Goodman. Director: Peter Berg.
Boston's strength just keeps running through the hearts of every patriot of New England, each and every day. And now this 'Patriots Day' pays tribute to all the brave men and women who took their city back in the wake of the tragic bombing of the Boston Marathon back in 2013. All whilst giving all due respect to all who lost their lives or livelihoods on that fateful day in April. And with great honour Bostonian Mark Wahlberg reunites with 'Lone Survivor' director Peter Berg for the third time with his latest double act, right after they dealt with the B.P. oil spill and the survivors of that burning rig in the emotional and powerful 'Deepwater Horizon' drama. And this follow up hit to your gut has just as much emotive power, from the nerve shaking camerawork, to the realism shell shocked rocked to your core. With stirring scenes too close for cinema seat comfort. It's clear to see from these two that the 'Battleship' and 'Hancock' director and the 'Transformers' and 'Ted' star are getting far more serious. But this weekend are the Academy? As this Sunday the Oscars has passed by both men and both films when at least one of them should have got a nomination in each, even insofar as going against each other and film. From 'The Departed' to 'The Kingdom' this actor/director perfect partnership have shown individual inspiration worthy of an award all on their own. Wahlberg had Oscar gold shine on him amongst Scorsese's 'Departed' Boston brotherhood of Matt Damon and an accented Leonardo DiCaprio and Jack Nicholson, but he's been snubbed before. Did you see 'The Fighter' with winner Melissa Leo and 'American Hustle's' Amy Adams and Christian Bale? Because apparantly the Academy did...but not the bits that Wahlberg's lead marked. And with the spotlight again on a real life account in Boston's history this year following Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber and Mark Ruffalo's time with Oscar last time round, this is a drama that actually rings truer than Casey Affleck's 'Manchester By The Sea' favourite. Touching and moving the rawest of nerves in unison, even outside the city limits. But even if the Hollywood Oscars that probably won't see past 'La La Land' to 'Moonlight' are playing games with these 'Patriots', even after February they will still have their day.
And here it is as the old Irish of this film show civic pride to this Beantown city like a Celtic. Wahlberg and Berg are really trying to say something...and especially here more than anything. Just like in honouring the purple heart of 'Lone Survivor' Marcus Luttrell and his awe inspiring, awesome autobiography after this individuals ordeal, surving a desert storm after losing his brave band of brothers in blood. Or every man, woman and crew hand on 'Deepwater Horizon' that strived to survived after the rig blew in powerful petroleum flames as the oil rich, fat cat B.P. bigwigs wanted to cut corners for their cash no matter what or who was the cost. Now in the ultimate survival of the fittest true story the actor of everyman character again plays a man of great service who goes above and beyond the call of duty for his city and country. In playing a cop with more courtesy, professionalism and respect...or "General Patton in a neon vest" as a Goodman says, Mark can't be beat. The die-hard New England Patriots fans shows he actually really is one down to his dedication and tried and testament tribute here. Phoning nothing in, but calling in every by the book and beyond notion of a lawman doing right amongst all the disorder, Wahlberg captured his real-life, blue-collar Boston character like New Jersey rocker Springsteen does in song across state lines. All to another stunning, sonic score from 'Gone Girl', Nine Inch Nails legends Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, recalling the string section of their bands best and strongest work in 'The Fragile' era. It's time to stop counting this Wahlberg out as a real actor as he helps shape the account of a city you can never put down. As aside Berg he brings the 'Boston Strong' book by 'The Finest Hours' (check out the movie adaptation with Casey Affleck) author Casey Sherman's story off the pages and right to the real people that define each word with everything they do. Directing with a diligence due, that is all Eastwood no b.s., subtle but strong sincerity and no Hollywood big-budget disaster flick crass gloss or uncooked corn. Berg even shows us the sick, disilusioned side of the terrorists and their day-to-day lives. Having them texting emoticons and 'LOL's about their manhunt wanted status to effectively show us just how absurd and disturbed they really were. But when it comes to the good guys, the heroes, Berg lets the real stars shine. The individual heroes that came together at a time terrorists tried to tear them...and us apart.
And there's more men who will honour these individuals here. Like Wahlberg's 'Gambler' co-star John Goodman who is more of a friendly face here to Mark in a commanding role of class and captaincy. He rounds out a big-three of screen greats here furthering their legend. As Kevin Bacon is back, going from being before every film to in all the ones that matter. And as a matter of fact this may be talked about as Kevin's best in years as a F.B.I. agent that takes charge of this situation. Just like ageing cop J.K. Simmons who just wants to get the job done and done right before coming home to his wife...inbetween some Dunkin' Donuts of course. A key Boston character that the town runs on...aint that right Casey?! The 'Whiplash' Oscar winning J.K. who rolling, recently fired Ryan Gosling in Damien Chazelle's 'La La Land' is symbol perfect here. Cop complete with a maverick moustache a la Kurt Russell in 'Deepwater'. Clearly going from 'Spider-Man' to 'The Batman' Mr. Jameson is getting his Commissioner Gordon training in early like his gym henched Instagrams whipped into sculpted shape. Speaking of 'Whiplash' and superheroes, 'Supergirl' Melissa Benoist is almost unrecognisable, but as an actor remarkable as a character on the other side of the hope and glee that she normally radiates. Yet she still shines as a star in something seriously sinister. Just like 'True Detective', 'Gone Baby Gone', 'Source Code' and 'Fort Bliss' standout star Michelle Monaghan who brings more depth to her already deep and diverse roles that the shallow waters of some of the Academy haven't tread. She shines yet again in a city of heroes and stars including 'Third Watch' T.V. star and 'E.R.' paramedic Michael Beach who is back on duty and mayor major here as governer. All the amazing actors who play the even realer Boston people here (from Jimmy O. Yang's carjacked civillian hero, to Jake Picking's heroic cop victim), tie everything together like the red, white and blue laces of the marathon men that make up the American flag tribute on this films poster. It may be a banner moment again for Berg and Wahlberg again but come this April, four years on when the starters pistol goes off and all those men and women running for Boston and the cheering crowd and servicemen in salute watching them complete this race and cross the line together, we all know who this is really for. The town and it's strong people of pride that will never stop running. No matter what stands in their way. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
See This If You Liked: 'Lone Survivor', 'Deepwater Horizon', 'Spotlight'.