Saturday, 30 December 2017
114 Mins. Starring: Jackie Chan, Pierce Brosnan, Ray Fearon, Michael McElhatton, Liu Tao, Charlie Murphy, Orla Brady & Katie Leung. Director: Martin Campbell.
Ni hao! Now if the streaming service Netflix is foreign to you old school, red letter multiplex cinema head purists, then it's time to no longer be lost in translation like Murray on 'Groundhog Day' over and over again. They say there's more than one way to skin a cat and you old dogs better believe there's more than one way to release a big, mainstream movie this forlorn fall. No matter what 'The Last Jedi' is telling you in cinemas now. It's not just big blockbusters that are zapping each other this time of the year in a time were the legendary 'Jumanji' is a video game and Hugh Jackman is still 'The Greatest Showman'. There's a star wars on the small, smartphone screen too. And in all these streaming wars, despite Amazon being in their prime and Apple taking a bite out of T.V. aswell as music, all the competition really chills in the face of Netflix. The new multimedia giant who even survived the fall of Kevin Spacey and their very own original origin show 'House Of Cards'. The exclusive content channel that even has scores of series' of their very own street-level Marvel heroes. Not to mention somethings you may have heard of like 'Orange Is The New Black', 'Narcos' and 'The Crown'. Let alone rights to the laughable likes of Jerry Seinfeld and Dave Chappelle. But how about their movies for those who want to lazy stay in on date night? Well after groundbreaking ones like Idris Elba's 'Beasts Of No Nation' started the Oscar so better pay attention ball rolling seasons ago, more movies made for Netflix only have appeared with some of the biggest, most exclusive names in Hollywood. This year especially were we have seen a 'War Machine' from Brad Pitt, a 'Mudbound', ground up Oscar favourite and another Academy acclaim starring the actor...erm Dustin Hoffman. And even this Christmas to New Year period one of the most famous faces in the world Will Smith can be found illuminated on your phone for the critically slated but commercially underrated 'Bright' that itself cops a battle with Smith's sons former 'Karate Kid' mentor Jackie Chan, otherwise known as 'The Foreigner'.
And like 'Jane Got A Gun', Natalie Portman playing the widow of JFK, Jackie is acting his heart and soul out. Chinaman legend Chan goes hell by the Stephen Leather 1992 book as 'The Foreigner', but unlike that 80's rock of ages band he isn't wanting to know what love is. But who the hell the bomber is that took his daughter. And for the ageing Asian action-hero who is far from 'Expendable' (yet...make the call Sly!), this is more Neeson, 'Taken' then Keanu, 'John Wick' in the closing chapters of this legends still legacy making career. His iconic fighting style still palms up with fists of rougher housing fury in brutal, but brilliant fight scenes dyed with more 'Atomic Blonde' powerful peroxide, raw realism over polished perfection. Sure this greats kicks these days are more Charlie horse than Chuck Norris roundhouse, but like Ali past his prime he can still deliver a knockout blow because he'll always be the greatest. And just you wait until he unloads with a home made shotgun in a handyman visit to your home, in a buckshot bullet, blunderbuss of bumbling action that is more forcefully real than reality-less funny. One stove to living room apartment set-piece that doesn't just throw the kitchen sink at you...but the flash flat-screen T.V. too. Sure the 'Police Story' legend doesn't move at a 'Rush Hour' pace anymore (even 'Rush Hour 3'), but it's even more incredibly inspired and impressive that he still puts his body on the line even more. As the man who always does his own stunts and is always O.K. shows and proves to us running and falling down a roof with the rest of the sliding tiles that if there's a bone in the human body that he hasn't broken yet in his laundry list of hospital gown sick notes then our skeleton's haven't evolved to it yet. But it's more than the power of the physical here. As psychologically a salt and peppered Jackie is at his personal best here. At least his most influential since Tokyo, Japan's martial art-less, in house drama, 'Shinjuku Incident'. Forget a broken pelvis or back at a break neck pace. Chan nurses a broken heart here and a forever bruised soul with a deep and dark portrayal of a man powerless in pain, but ready in a revenge soaked return for retribution. Jackie Chan has an honorary Oscar from the Academy for a reason more than the high-wire highlights. He's always been willful and able to actually act. But here the nuance amongst all the noise, eye of Chan see's so much more inside the very being of a man who has lost everything he lived for. And still soldiering on, it doesn't get realer or genuinely felt in true thespian testament than that. The Academy may just invite this lovable actors character back this mid-February. Because this is heart.
Yet Chan isn't the only formidable one in 'The Foreigner'. Cue 'November Man' Pierce Brosnan this December. Yes Bond...that James Bond. Who reunites with 007 'Goldeneye' director Martin Campbell, who also dealt the cards in Daniel Craig's 'Casino Royale' takeover hand and...erm the bright 'Green Lantern' movie (which technically gave us Ryan Reynolds 'Deadpool'...so thank you Martin!). Playing a Gerry Adams lookalike with his homegrown Irish accent on two fingers whiskey high potency. Playing an ex member of the IRA, seemingly playing it politically straight, but also in the way of Chan's arrow hearted desire to bring the terroists who took his daughters life in the explosive crossfire of making a "statement" to justice. Campbell's gritty ashes to dust movie from London to Northern Ireland is closer to the marrow than the bone, as this isn't just raw and relevant for history, but right, damn now especially too. And thankfully a piercing Brosnan on the brute best of his career doesn't let up like this movies terribly tense and terrifyingly taught tone, in both his characters ignorance and refusal to yield to both the power of information and peace. The cruel and contradictory confliction of a coward and a corruptor is captured perfectly by the former action hero himself who shares a surname with Charles. Never have you seen a character who refuses to admit or accept, yet forget or give up on his buried but dirt knee rubbed past. And never in his great career has the actor ever been better and perhaps ever will be. His own convincing conflictions setting of a catalyst of events and sub-plots that almost unfairly sidelines Chan somewhat, all until his karmatic conclusion matches the ante of his explosive entrance. Sub-stories that include characters and actors like 'Thrones', 'Zookeepers Wife', 'King Arthur' and 'Justice League' familiar face Michael McElhatton. Former police procedural actor now commander of counter terroism (via a 'Beauty & The Beast spot) Ray Fearon on fearless, offical form. Emotionally widowed wife Orla Brady. Charlie Murphy (not the late, great comedian brother of Eddie, but a 'Peaky Blinders' leading lady of tomorrow) and amazing Asian actresses Liu Tao and Katie Leung. But this clever cast still has nothing on the man whose had every risked limb of his life in one until he finally found the part that is set to (re)make him instead. The streaming supernova Netflix between Bronsan back catolouging also shoots many a Chan classic. From the 'Drunken Master' to 'Kung-Fu Yoga'. And all 'The Tuxedo's', 'Young' and 'Railroad Tigers' and exclusive 'Skip Traces' with 'Jackass' Johnny Knoxville inbetween. Yet it's this 'Foreigner' that you will really relate to...no matter where you come from. Still dancing and kung-fu fighting like those boys that were as fast as lightning at 60, Chan is still the man. Yeah Jackie! TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Further Filming: 'Shinjuku Incident', 'November Man', 'Terror In Resonance'.
Wednesday, 27 December 2017
Bad Orcs, Bad Orcs.
118 Mins. Starring: Will Smith, Joel Edgerton, Lucy Fry, Ike Barinholtz, Kenneth Choi, Edgar Ramirez & Noomi Rapace. Director: David Ayer.
It's going to be a 'Bright' Christmas this season for the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. But can the one-time 'I Am Legend' fall, "Lord of the Films" wrap orcs, fairies and other creatures of legend together with humans as well as he 90's mixed a Jazzy Jeff record scratched music career with the science fiction of zapping aliens his secret society welcomed to earth? Well here comes the man in black as a boy in blue and when there's a megastar Will Smith, you know there's a Hollywood way. One that can make this 'Bad Boys' meets 'End Of Watch' and everything this side of the shire work after throwing the book it was supposed to go by out. As to cop this buddy orc fairytale actually takes you out of fantastyland and into the gritty 'Sabotage' realism of working the downtown beat from the hood to the cruiser of the LAPD. F### furious, 'Fury' director David Ayer-who uses that mother lovin' word like puncuation in his brute mess films-reunites with 'Deadshot' Will Smith after their DC Batman villain guns for hire 'Suicide Squad' for an 'End Of Watch' style police partnership with a twist. There's no handheld camcorders to stringer document this procedure this time. Just a thousand year legend you'll have to see intermingle with us today to believe will fly like a fairy that looks nothing like Tink. "Fairy lives don't matter today" and apparantly neither does this movie according to "worst film of the year" scathing critics. But that cringe-inducing corny line that Smith still delivers on time like the mailman aside, 'Bright' is more illuminating than the critics putting it in the winter night give light of day credit for. As this buckshot and reload, seedy Los Angeles crimes night action is a hell of a red and blue flashing lights ride of enjoyable entertainment. Even if the "can't we all just get along" well intentioned message gets diluted in the Kool-Aid of some "oh yeah" too sugary for your teeth one liners. Turns out it's going to be a 'Bright' day as all is alright after all.
'Legend' had it that Will Smith Boxing Day movies would have patrons queing out the door and back again like he really was the last man on earth back in the day. Now this festive period you can just stream them instantly on Netflix at home or on your phone like all those Marvel shows, as Smith joins fellow big names this year like Brad Pitt's 'War Machine', Jackie Chan's 'The Foreigner', or Black Panther Chadwick Boseman's 'Message From The King' in going from the cinemax big-screen to one as small as up to the palm of your hand. But this is the future and the man who couldn't save a contrived but meant to be 'It's A Wonderful Life' meets 'Scrooge' classic Christmas movie 'Collateral Beauty' despite his charismatic best efforts is looking to downgrade the collateral damage to his A-list career on a minus report card. Even if that means dropping the charm for a more offensive arsenal alongside Ayer. The dynamo to dynamite director of rough around the edges cinematic scrapes that are either 'Fury' or 'End Of The Watch' game changing. Or like the maddeningly muddled 'Suicide Squad' or this right here. As Ayer gives the man with the nice clean raps (who even reunited with his D.J. Jazzy Jeff in the Las Vegas of the U.K. Blackpool of all places after Croatia this Summer for one hell of a show) a stereotypical streets of L.A. playground slapped with a parental advisory sticker and some epic content straight out of your childhood bedtime storybook. Ayer is the blunderbuss, Smith the steady hand. Making this movie somewhere between the precision of a sniper...or a machine gunner. And this pistol whipped quick draw in the end is good, not bad...even if at times it really is orc ugly. As when it comes to this city of fallen angels with dirty faces look, lit only by flickering neon reading, "X-X-X" Ayer's blunt force still hits home, despite the trauma. This graphic, comic-book violence has the makings of a cult, graphic novel.
Willing his way through it all. Whether Shrek's with bad teeth or elves with ears bigger than his, Officer Smith is a good cop despite the agent of change, 'Bad Boys' veneer. This is Mike Lowry, but beat after years on the job...yet still with that sense of humour as ammunition. Not to mention a pencil moustache Carlton would be proud of. Sure this is a far cry from the movie megastar millions, Smithsonian days of 'Independence Day' or 'I Robot'. Even those sci-fi to inspired ones of 'Hitch' or 'The Pursuit Of Happyness'. But yet just like the father/son trials of the critically scorched 'After Earth', or the not quite superhero 'Hancock' there's still a heart here. And the subtely soulful Smith (who don't forget only two falls back gave us his best Oscar worthy knockout since he played the greatest 'Ali' with the NFL brain injury tackling 'Concussion'...probably the most important sports movie of all time) can carry anything in this patrol of a formidably futuristic looking Los Angeles (even more so than in real life that still has those elements entwined like 'Lethal Weapon' Danny Glover's 'Predator 2' beat). Even partners that look like orc rejects from 'The Hobbit'. As riding Martin Lawrence shotgun to his bad cop/good orc 'Training Day' like ride is 'Warrior' and Academy 'Loving' worthy actor Joel Edgerton. The amazing Aussie who has been lighting it up since 'Midnight Special' is Jon Voight as Howard Cossell in 'Ali' unrecognisable here alongside Will. Almost looking like a Killer Croc 'Suicide Squad' reject riding shotgun. Yet still finds a way to the humanity of this creature and an aching heart behind all that hours in the chair make-up and snaggle teeth. Fellow countrywoman and 'Vampire Diaries' sucker Lucy Fry is also a shining standout despite the platinum blonde from down under looking like this is the third film Smith and Margot Robbie have done together since the slick 'Focus'...but that my friends is actually a con. This trio traverse an impressive cast including 'Neighbors' star Ike Barinholtz as a grubby cop you're not sure whether is dirty or not...but could sure use a wash round the ears and Marvel Howling Commando, come Spider-Man head teacher Kenneth Choi in almost what comes as a cameo. They're not the only talent grossly underused. As 'Gold', 'Point Break' actor Edgar Ramirez who probably only had a few days worth of shooting because he's in everything right now plays an elf on fleek (albeit one left on the shelf in the season of singing loud for all to hear). Whilst 'The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo' and bleach blonde and blue contacts, 'Promethesus' star Noomi Rapace looks great as this movies villain but barely has a screenplay page worth of dialogue. It's a good job she plays practically everyone in her other Netflix film, because you'll be asking what happened to her lines like 'What Happened To January'?! But this is one movie you should definitly still stream too. A trademark rough and not quite ready David Ayer stunted piece of genius that merely needs a little more mastering, but is as engrossing as its flaws. With a clever concept that's saying something but still has plenty of Toyota and (and I quote) "titty bar' stunning shootouts in the chamber to numb any dull, preachy pretense. Call me Mr. Brightside but this cop patrol for a wand actually works Potter. For Smith all is 'Bright' like all is calm. What you gonna do? TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Further Filming: 'Suicide Squad', 'End Of Watch', 'Predator 2'.
Wednesday, 20 December 2017
The Fisher Queen.
152 Mins. Starring: Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Lupita Nyong'o, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Gwendoline Christie, Kelly Marie Tran, Billie Lourd, Laura Dern & Benicio Del Toro. Director: Rian Johnson.
This isn't the sequel you are looking for. Search your feelings, you know it to be true. Or then again is 'The Last Jedi' all just a messy trip, mind trick? As the 'Star Wars' saga continues for a long time in a galaxy far away. Decades following George Lucas' original and quite possibly the greatest trilogy of all-time (sorry 'Godfather') that not only changed the science fiction, gravity defying genre, but also the movie world as a whole, the new milleniuum came with young Anakin, pod racing and Ja Ja f###### Binks (he so sorry). Sure the prequel trilogy that looked as promising as Darth Maul's dual revealing saber and the light battle that ensued (but now...or should we say "WOW" will never be the same thanks to Owen Wilson) was a different sort of menace. But it had it's moments (Obi Wan and Django duelling like the old west in the rain anyone?) and if it wasn't for the limbless failure Lucasfilm learnt from we wouldn't have this brand new trilogy and solo stories that bring the rolling credits right back to us. 'Star Trek' Bad Robot reboot director J.J. Abrams of all filmakers gave the next generation 'A New Hope' truly in his cheers and tears evoking fun and fantastic epic 'The Force Awakens'. And after this trilogy took a year break for the blueprint of the equally entertaining 'Rogue One', 'Star Wars Story' band of resistance brothers. Lead by another Rey of light with an even funnier droid that played like one of those perfect Playstation 'Star Wars' zapping games. It now returns like the Jedi for the last one (or should we say part two?) as this force of a franchise looks to do what 'The Hobbit' did each Christmas a few years ago and be the Smaug like fire that burns the box office down. Because apparantly even the 'Justice League' trinity of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman can't. But when it comes to this lord of the films in a Marvel superhero age how does this saga as old as Mark Hamill's Lucas beard keep up at a hyperspace pace with their Mickey Mouse Disney brother? Well with Abrams now A.W.O.L. to the trilogy conclusion at least it's time for the director of the most original and outstanding sci-fi in years ('Looper' complete with a Joesph Gordon-Levitt vocal cameo here alongside Stormtrooping Daniel Craig like ones from 'Inception' co-star Tom Hardy and two royals as you should never be afraid to dream a little bigger darling), Rian Johnson to lead the Resistance to a first class film against the First Order.
Energize...oops sorry, wrong movie! Yet still warp driven or not this sophomore sequel still has that Rian looping energy even with J.J. gone 'Into Darkness' for this follow up. Episode 8 and part two begins yet again with another Academy acting Oscar Isaac and his and our new favourite droid BB-8 (the best beach volleyball since Tom Hanks' 'Cast Away' Wilson) having the most fun of his compelling career, this time firmly in the cockpit of his beloved X-Wing, console charging through cinematic classic carnage. Reminding us of what it would have been like if Al Pacino never turned down that Solo part and thankfully being present and oh so correct throughout in a new jacket even cooler than the one he gave to his bromance jacket brother Finn. John Boyega (no spoiler because you've seen the almost show it all trailer) is back after having a jagged light saber stripped through his spine. And moving us like Motown the 'Detroit' Oscar worthy is better than ever attacking the block like dealing with aliens and chrome dome Stormtroopers ('Game Of Thrones' and 'Top Of The Lake' standout Gwendoline Christie again in limited time in the spotlight again more than literally shines) is nothing new. And amongst all the rock face drama between the biggest cliffhanger in 'Star Wars' history and 'Murder On The Orient Express' actor Daisy Ridley who again kills it as Rey the hero this new world looking for light deserves after all the dark and cute robin/hamster like hybrids the Porgs (which are so cash cow cute you'll probably find them on the top aswell as underneath your tree this Christmas) there is so much more to this force. Visually Johnson's vivid imagination is on a machine-level scale like no other and this whole movie is canvassed in stark scarlet. From the blood red herrings of the trailers and mosaic posters to the salt of a storming desert warfare scene to dust to dust. Even the chess piece like Imperial Guards surrounding the red room of Supreme Leader Snoke are a samurai army of rouge. And as for what comes to a hilt in there...DAMN! Now no longer in huge hologram form we finally see Snoke for who he is. And the Ceasar of mo-cap acting Andy Serkis (who deserves his own motion capture category Academy and Oscar for his new 'Planet Of The Apes' trilogy work of real emotion and devotion) is supreme as Snoke, even if the leader looks like Gollum grew up, developed a skin condition and was left one of Hugh Hefner's bathrobes. The February forthcoming T'Challa villain joined by fellow 'Black Panther' star Lupita Nyong'o in a motion capture cameo that begs for more from the '12 Years A Slave' Oscar winner. Snoke wants to turn the guilt ridden Kylo Ren to a snake that will never slither from the Dark Side. And after showing these scars 'Paterson' and 'Logan Lucky' underrated star Adam Driver drives this home with such a force that the only thing disappointing about his whole angst-apprentice thing is that he destroys that Darth Vader idolizing mask everyone loved so much they put their hands over their mouth like Bane to idol impersonate themselves. Come on Ben...finish what you started.
Resolution will have its day here in a film that deals with more family drama then Dr. Phil and still has enough in the budget for a big, gaudy casino country scene that's just as bat s### crazy as some of the creature characters that reside here. And like all the animals that stampede through here sometimes it's all too messy for every fans liking. And as Disney strict kept to the script that all this Star Wars story that ties in to every book and game ever released with that iconic logo (whether even comic-book or playing cards) is sometimes 'The Last Jedi' feels like it's all being made up as it goes along in what has already become the most divisive 'Star Wars' movie yet. And to those saying it's the second best of all-time, it's more like the original trilogy in podium order, then the last two years two tied for fourth, this and then the prequel trilogy, headed by the 'Phantom Menace'. All this and thank goodness for the good ole likes of Chewie, R2 and Anthony Daniels C3-P0 who has finally given Iron Man his arm back. But give credit where directing credits are due because after the flat feeling of this film that albeit is all too noticable, Johnson saves the day with some amazing action and defining drama to make up for some mistakes that make us yearn for the man who regarded Henry and then was bold enough to blast a saber right through Harrison Ford's Han Solo. One legendary light fight and duel in particular will seperate whats dark from all that's bright until everyone runs crimson. So in this movie for every metaphorical Binks there's a Bobba (and no don't worry or rejoice that wasn't an Easter Egg...they aren't here). For every hammed up general acting from a much better Domhnall Gleeson there is a new actress showing us how good she is in the introduced Kelly Marie Tran who got so emotional about earning her first big break here. Even though she had to lie to her family and friends for this shrouded in secrecy sequel and say she was shooting an indie flick in Canada. As a matter of fact there's so much new hope in the form of some veteran help here. 'Jurassic Park' legend Laura Dern, complete with purple rinse looks like she could carry on after Carrie with all due respect in honour. Whilst a stuttering 'Sicario' saga star Benicio Del Toro grubbly steals the show like he collects infinity stones in the Marvel Universe for this war. But you can't beat the old dogs and original big-three, even without Ford's Solo. Mark Hamill's Luke Skywalker is finally back and hilariously not just glaring at his glow stick sword for half a minute, lifting his Jedi cloak hood up with his Terminator fingers after all this time. He's not the baby faced whiner anymore. These decades and days he resembles someone who truly looks like a father figure and it's here on these highlands where this former student becomes the master and mentors his new apprentice. All whilst learning much more about his path and how to trim, if albeit not to shave. Hamill is hallmark here however and the only honoured homage that pays better tribute to this movie and all the Jedi franchises that have come before it is that of the Princess. Now generally speaking more like a queen as Carrie Fisher is a formidable force here in her final movie that she fittingly sees through to the end in a conclusion that will leave you no longer thinking, but knowing that this muse and her movie gave their everything they had to each other until the final fade out. And after some soaring scenes that draw even more smiles across faces than that C.G. 'New Hope' beginning, 'Rogue One' end cameo who will carry the light in her rest? Well who else but another great young actress with powerful potential and that hair do to match? Who else but an actress whose appearance here is more acclaimed than just an actual tribute cameo? Who else but the brilliant Billie Lourd? Who else but Carrie Fisher's daughter? After all this franchise was always about one thing stronger than the force...family. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Further Filming: 'Star Wars-The Force Awakens', 'Rogue One: A Star Wars Story', 'Star Trek-Beyond'.
Monday, 18 December 2017
140 Mins. Starring: Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Michael Cera, Joe Keery, Jeremy Strong, Bill Camp, Chris O'Dowd & Kevin Costner. Director: Aaron Sorkin.
Much more than stakes or Academy aces are high here as Jessica Chastain goes all in for 'Molly's Game'. One of today's best actors who is about to become an 'X-Men' this Summer like 'A Most Violent Year' co-star Oscar Isaac's 'Apocalypse', swaps her trademark 'Dark Phoenix'/Molly Ringwald (could she be 'IT' too?) do for some raven locks. Growing into them to play Molly Bloom and the real life story based on her memoir of the same movie name about the former Olympic skier who salomon switched to another game. All the way from the thin air of Colorado to the hot sun of Hollywood, chicaning via the debauched sin of Las Vegas. Running the biggest and most exclusive, underground, billionaire boys poker game for athletes and politicans and DiCaprio's and Affleck's alike. Although here to protect identities they are more like Cera's and that kid from 'Stranger Things' with the hair for you chip geeks. It's not all how this slick movie looks however in black and red as under the wig is a perfect performance for Chastain's Oscar chasing big-three roll of 2017. See also her heroic roles in the war resistance of 'The Zookeepers Wife' and her one woman 'Miss Sloane' army against every gun range in the United States. But now former creator of the real 'American President' in 'The West Wing' (forget a Trump or Frank Underwood) Aaron Sorkin follows his screenplay work for the likes of David Fincher ('The Social Network') and Danny Boyle ('Steve Jobs') for a dynamic directorial debut that leaves it all on the green felt table. Much like his Michael Lewis adapted 'Moneyball' big swing, now showing that you should never leave his inspired ideas in the hands of someone else or the cutting room floor (see the criminally underrated 'Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip' starring Bradley Whitford and Matthew Perry). For this 'Molly' you're looking at the hottest screenwriter in Hollywood and one of it's legendary, legacy making leading lights. Shall we play a game?
Digits stack like chips and numbers crunch like snow under skis on the most devastating descent as Sorkin sorts through some casino lever slick pulling direction that hits the jackpot like three reels of the same slot. Running the facts and figures like another Michael Lewis adapted movie in 'The Big Short', Aaron's debut in the chair headlined "director" makes it all look so too cool easy and like he had more time behind the lens for the likes of his screenplay big-three, 'The Social Network', 'Steve Jobs' and 'Moneyball'. But just like "playing a song for your daddy, right here in the store" or the 'if only the real world was really like this' wonder of 'The West Wing' there's huge heart behind all the hallmark hit highlights. Cue a Winter coat Costner on a cold Central Park bench again a la 'Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit'. Otherwise Sorkin's 'Molly' goes it 'Sloane' alone and makes her own modern American dream luck with no Hollywood b.s. damsel in distress hero to save the day for this heroine, or no love interest to keep the paint by numbers stereotypes crass canvased. Because just like Sorkin said, shooting down film festival press, "Brad Pitt didn't need one in 'Moneyball'", as Robin Wright was playing house with 'Her' director Spike Jonze in that Billy Beane movie. And from the winter sports pages snake eyes to the double or nothing second career gamble, 'Zero Dark Thirty' actress Jessica Chastain brings lights out, magic hour power of performance to her real world implicating character. She caters to the rich and famous high rollers but will never be brought or played by them. She holds her own and does her job, to those who think she looks the part...NO! She is the part and to those who think she's an object of desire or someone to flirt with between hands and cash exchanging for chips go home, grow up and think again. Her only interest besides her bank account is furthering herself and a career and high life that was lost on the slopes. This is Molly's empire...you're just playing in it. So lose your toys in the sandbox and get some perspective, because this woman even holds off the mob, takes a beating and picks herself up and carries on like any strong person and individual would. This is someone who walked away from a mountain sized fall that should have crippled her...physically and psychologically. A couple of goons in cheap suits? Forget about it! Chastain has been chasing and subsequently been called for these roles she's showed and proved for ever since her breakout in 'The Help'. And just like her leading co-star, 'La La Land' Oscar winner Emma Stone who is even greater in her latest movie 'Battle Of The Sexes' this is more than gender politics or going against a backwards Hollywood(land). This is the right for everyone willing to put in the work to get their equal share. Whether in dollars, sense or a piece of the American dream pie that should be all world reaching.
'The Tree Of Life' lead Jessica Chastain isn't the only one in full bloom however, playing a woman named after a James Joyce character. Idris Elba walks away from a critically shot down adaptation of Stephen King's The Dark Tower', which he Gunslinger carried with lonely charisma and yearning heroism to give us one of his best roles to date. Right next to the 'Beasts Of No Nation' Oscar rob that should have got more 'Blood Diamond' attention even if it was the state of Netflix a couple of years ago (and still somewhat to this day). London's 'Luther' again shows just like 'The Wire' how acclaimed his American accent can be as this Great British actor who grew from the small screen to the cinemax one is as so slick as the game he's trying to find a legal loophole around. But there's no oil to this lawyer even in a land of snakes as this attorney has a stirring soul behind all those legal briefs and objections. As a matter of fact switching seats more times than celebrities courtside at a Knicks game at Madison Square Garden, this reluctant representative has the biggest legal aid heart since Denzel Washington took Tom Hanks 'Philadelphia' case in '93. Just wait for Idris' impassioned, inspired peace saying speech that lump in the throat draws more cheers and tears than his "apocalypse" one in 'Pacific Rim' that even cancelled out Bill Pullman's 'Independence Day' one. The defence rests. But still there's even more to this movie that is more than just a casino or courtroom drama. It's layered. Take former 'Superbad' geek Michael Cera oozing milleniaal, "don't care" cool as a player who likes to "destroy lives" even if his top lip looks like it's still trying to get through puberty. This man yet again shows us he has more 'Scott Pilgrim' tricks as he takes on the world with all his 'Youth In Revolt' alter-egos. Even 'Stranger Things'' Joe Keery-who proved he had a lot more in the bag than being a douche in season 2 cameo-appears with that trademark Brylcreem showing us that in a couple more trips to the cinema he'll be Cera. As an ever versatile Jeremy Strong also shows us his strength of an actor as the usually all round good guy plays someone you'll hate. Whilst vests like Bill Camp bring character actor defying definition to small roles of significant that 48 hours at the table smell of substance. And if that wasn't enough 'IT Crowd' favourite Chris O'Dowd polishes off an American/Irish accent and whatevers left in whiskey on his bar tab. But for all the big names and recognisable faces at this all-star table of movie star high rollers its the legend Kevin Costner that really has presence in the shadows like in his hammer to "white only" bathroom stall sign support for the real life moon landing heroes of last years 'Hidden Figures'. Because this isn't the 90's 'Bodyguard', 'Waterworld' and 'Untouchable' legend Costner's movie...it's Chastain's. And as Sorkin soaringly writes and directs his vision of this story on screen shows one day she can do it all too. As in bringing the real Molly Bloom to life Chastain doesn't just partake in the game...she rewrites the rules of it. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Further Filming: 'Miss Sloane', 'The Social Network', 'The Big Short'.
Friday, 15 December 2017
Justice For Some.
120 Mins. Starring: Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Henry Cavill, Jason Mamoa, Ezra Miller, Ray Fisher, Amy Adams, Diane Lane, Connie Nielson, Amber Heard, Joe Morton, Billy Crudup, Ciaran Hinds, Jeremy Irons & J.K. Simmons. Directors: Zack Snyder & Joss Whedon.
"You either die a hero. Or live long enough to see yourself become the villain"! Is this the dusk of justice right when the night is darkest before the dawn? Or is this league of its own coming out from wallowing in the shadows of a hammer, shield, metal suit and green rage? Ever since Christopher Nolan took Batman away from the gothic great Tim Burton films that turned into the plastic Bat-Nipples and bank card of 'Batman (thankfully not) Forever' with his 'Dark Knight' trilogy, the crusading capes of the superhero genre which is now a franchise force begun again. Just look at what came in the summer of 2008 the same time the late, great Heath Ledger was making the iconic Joker villain his new ace in the hole, classic creation. Yep, that's right the first 'Iron Man' film which a decade and 18 Marvel Cinematic Universe movies later will all culminate and climax with the two part 'Infinity War' beginning this May. But back 10 years ago Marvel where behind D.C. until the 'Dark Knight' rose no more and then the Detective Comics started to play catch-up with a Hulk tugging on their cape. A year after Christian Bale's Bat trilogy conclusion, D.C. went in a new direction with the planet and Zack Snyder's 'Man Of Steel' overseen by Nolan. This grittier, darker take to the stars and stripes of Marvel's spangled Captain was enough for people to want a 'Justice League' of their own and turn that 'I Am Legend' Times Square billboard from the early 2000's into a reality. Then the 'Dawn Of Justice' and critical hate came with last years 'Batman v Superman'. Although really this criminally underrated massive movie of dark decedance and soaring super power was actually amazing, save the Doomsday of some Godzilla like city destroying stock villains and some Martha-isms. A fun but messy 'Suicide Squad' followed suit before the anti-Marvel wagered turning a soft reboot into a hard reset ahead of the dawn of this November's 'Justice League' movie. Thank the Godesses for the wonderful 'Wonder Woman' movie this Summer though. As 'Monster' director Patty Jenkins and 'Fast and Furious' star Gal Gadot teamed up with the whole amazon to not only save the day, but pave the way and reverse superhero stereotypes before even Marvel decided to go with their other Captain. Queen Gadot's crowning Diana Prince gave more than D.C. hope. You don't need a lasso of truth to see what every young girl growing up wants this Christmas...and it's not a Barbie. But just when Justice looked to be served for all, tragedy took a horrible turn with the Snyder family (our thoughts are right there) and avenging Marvel director and 'Buffy' legend Joss Whedon was left to slay the demons left in D.C.'s dark wake.
"I tried" reads a sign from a homeless man in the opening to this joint effort but sole credited 'Justice League' team-up. More than a clever Easter Egg (like the newspaper report asking if the death of Superman is really him returning to his home planet like Ziggy Stardust or The Artist formerly here) many think this is Whedon's way of telling us this was all his tied hands could do much like with his Marvel pink-slip 'Avengers' sequel 'Age Of Ultron'. But in other camps people are lobbying to see the darker Snyder cut (here, here) in the same vain as the cult loved 'BvS' and not this Whedon wheezed marvelling of jokes and one-liners that seems more suited to the billionaire, playboy philantrophist that AC/DC rocks a metal suit and not one dressed just like a Bat. Because although there are genuine laughs with the Gotham grit and gravitas that makes this Danny Elfman in for Hans Zimmer soundscape one that scores on a superheroic, cinematic level. Tonally this thing is as messy as the corny C.G.I. so slow-mo, 'Transformer' metal to mallet bashing bad that the same whopping 25 mill that went to digitally remove Henry Cavill's (no spoiler alert...you knew from the first image get go that Superman would return in this movie. Whether we'll get a Green Lantern or any new characters is anyones Marvel mirrored post-credits conclusion) 'Mission Impossible' moustache could have fed a small nation and instead made him look like the leader of 'The Incredibles' not the 'Justice League'. Superman is meant to save people! It would have been more cost-effective and convincing to have some kid graffiti a pencil moustache onto Cavill in the pre-production of the new 'M:I' movie. It's not an impossible mission people. You could even give the forever young, Tom Cruise some stubble. Despite these riches coming out cheap this is just an another embarrassment to a film and franchise who didn't learn from the 'Squad' goals of too many trailers, more than a year in advance and the whole thing looks like a suicide mission. Sure this film is fun and full of heart in places and the action like the sum of all the sticky out parts is entertaining, but when Aquaman surfs on a winged demon that looked so scary in Batman's 'Dawn Of Justice' canvas coated Knightmare and ends up making it look like Chitauri cannon fodder with no Loki as he drops and rolls through a building and Taylor Swift shakes it off with his long locks like nothing happened, 'Justice League' becomes "just no" my man.
"The ride aint over yet"! Aww really? C'mon! I want to get off! O.K. let's be reasonable there's a good film in here somewhere. Maybe even a much greater one. But whats left on the cutting room floor and what remains of this franchise and the series of wrecking ball hits its about to take for a D.C. that has more universes than it does successful T.V. shows (at least they keep up with Marvel-even the Netflix level ones-that way) is not deserving of this class cast. Sure the all singing and directing Ben Affleck directed 'Batman' solo movie is now left in tatters like many like him in Hollywood's reputation, but just like this year born's, criminally underrated 'Live By Night' do-all movie, Affleck is an amazing 'Dark Knight'. The 'Argo' Oscar winning director on a different path worthy of the cowl like Bale, Clooney (kidding), Keaton and the late, great, one of a kind, original Adam West (even if the smart money and rumors is on another Nightcrawler, 'Stronger' actor Jake Gyllenhaal stepping up next). Answering the call of the Bat Signal and illuminating the dark shadows of orphan Bruce Wayne's crippling loneliness bathed in billions and the guilt of a bachelor. And what about the great Gal Gadot?! A real wonder as her genuine truth to power is diminished by the directing of some shots that are more than demeaning in an age of heroes where we should be fighting against sexual harrassment like wives of Hollywood types standing up for themselves and others. Not adding to it and what is being taught to younger fan-boys as they act like kids looking up skirts here. At least the new breed lead by a redeemed 'Game Of Thrones' actor Jason Mamoa making it his own here, looking to "unite the seven" (I think he means the seas) as a pitchfork perfect Aquaman changes other perceptions. Even if they are only ones like Arthur Curry used to be the type of hilarity ensuing hero that looked like Steve Rogers before the serum. Speaking of (or to) fish, Ray Fisher gives Victor Stone a rock of a heart behind all that stark Cyborg box metal. Offering our red eye one of the deepest performances of this ensemble piece as he truly connects with everything. Whilst the fun Ezra Miller's different direction of red runner Barry Allen is loving being along for the ride. Even if the fate of this franchise might truly make it all a Flash in the pan. He has the best jokes, but warms more than his soles with some heart to perspex hand holding prison time with his father, mentored perfectly by former Dr. Manhattan 'Watchmen' Billy Crudup. Don't stand too close kid...good job you got that glass between you! This all-star list of collaborating characters (and character actor favourites like Holt McCallany) also features the 'Terminator: Judgement Day' engineering of legend Joe Morton and the Martha mothering of Diane Lane from downtown to the cornfields. Not to mention Jeremy Irons' willful and amazing Alfred, now ultimately wasted. As despite getting his hands and overalls dirty this butler may no longer be of service. Or amazing Amy Adams' journalistic integrity as Lois Lane, only missing the Daily Planet columns of Clark Kent which she wishes she could turn the world round to change. Thankfully among all the heroes and heroiness (courageous Connie Nielson returns to Wonder Woman's world as a ready to go Amber Heard is introduced in heading up Aquaman's aquarium), the Man Of Steel will fly again, even if fan boys and girls want to see him back in black. An honoured Henry Cavill brings cavalier hope back to Kal-El. But even a comet catching Superman can't save this cluster#### and a Steppenwolf villain that looked more C.G. convincing in that brief moment Jesse Eisenberg's Lex Luthor tried to bring him to life in 'Dawn Of Justice'...although Ciaran Hinds hands his versatile voice over to try his best and brightest. It's not all bat-s### crazy though for a film that bowed down to the Marvel pressure to lighten up until it broke beyond rewrite repair. Putting it alongside Stephen King's adapted 'The Dark Tower', Luc Besson's visual 'Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets' and the already wrapped up 'Dark Universe' franchise of 'The Mummy' in the dust of the biggest big-screen let downs of the year. Right next to superhero falls like Fox's 'Fantastic Four' and 'X-Men: Apocalypse'...aren't you as happy as Mickey that Disney are now letting all Stan Lee's toys play in the same M.C.U. sandbox? Thankfully Oscar winner J.K. Simmons makes for a commanding Commissioner Gordon in spare scenes right as Gary Oldman is about to take the Academy as Churchill. It's a good job otherwise Jonah Jameson (make that J.K. 'Homecoming' happen with the crack of a whip Spider-Man...please) may find himself writing editorials for the Gotham Gazette. We can just see the headline now..."Injustice: Duds Among Us"! TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Further Filming: 'Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice', 'Wonder Woman', 'The Avengers'.
Wednesday, 29 November 2017
Crazy, Stupid, LOVE.
121 Mins. Starring: Emma Stone, Steve Carell, Sarah Silverman, Andrea Riseborough, Elisabeth Shue, Austin Stowell, Natalie Morales, Eric Christian Olsen, Alan Cumming & Bill Pullman. Directors: Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris.
Oscar season and the aces that hope to aim high are officially in full swing with this court of cinematic service. And what better way to honour seventies superstar Billie Jean King aside from Barack Obama's Presidential Medal Of Freedom than with this big picture, 'Battle Of The Sexes'? The tennis legend and amazing activist who vollyed and lobbied for gender and LGBT equality and in one fateful exhibition game and rewrote sports and social history. All on a grass court that helped pave the way for women in the workplace everywhere. Like a suffergete campaigning for a fair days equal pay in an increasingly insufferable chauvastic world. To todays entertainment universe where Hollywood is still influenced by indignant inequality and now is even exposed to the rampant misogny, sexual harassment and even rape that has plagued this now uninspired industry for only just spoke up about now decades. Stepping out of the Academy Award acclaimed dancing shoes of 'La La Land', 'Best Actress' Emma Stone (an aiding activist and role model to todays young women like fellow 'Help' co-breakout star, Jessica Chastain) slips on a pair of Adidas Presley Blue suede shoes and toes the baseline of center court, giving Jean King her accented acting queen. And from the trademark mannerisms to the memerizing transformation it's an all-encompassing embodiement on the blade-tip ice-rink scale of former Harley Quinn, Margot Robbie in Netflix's forthcoming 'I Tonya' Harding biopic. A spectacle even behind those instantly recognisable gold bifocals that are looking to frame Oscars, Stone faces 'Crazy, Stupid Love' co-star Steve Carell on the other side of the net for this let for service. The man who since that Gosling love story has swan-changed from an 'Office' comedian of 'Anchorman' foolhardy lamplight proportions to a 'Little Miss Sunshine', 'Foxcatcher' and 'Big Short' (also with Ryan) serious Academy actor. And like the Sony Classic sports drama caught straight from the foxhole, this traditional texture, modern day homage to history is seventies soaked all the way down to the old Fox Searchlight retro intro. Proving to be game, set and match to this years fellow doubles, decades done, sports match movie of the high-strung, but deucing 'Borg vs McEnroe'. As this is the Wimbledon of tennis movies.
And new balls plese because from the holy trinity of 'Field Of Dreams', 'The Blind Side' and 'Glory Road', not to mention the champ 'Ali' this is one of the greatest sporting movies with more of a story behind it of all-time. Ready to see even more love this February than a point advantage. And serving against a still seventies sexist world Emma Stone proves like she shouldnt have to that she belongs in this Fred Perry fashioned world like a Billie Jean so good M.J. probably was really singing about her. And in this Billie vs Bobby, the coralled Carell rigs up Bobby Riggs with physical and psychological impression, no imperfection. Stating that he wants to put the show back in chauvanism, you'll detest this despicable he for it, but that's just the sign of a great actor as he really does put on an all out show. As Stone with granite cutting grit and 'City Of Stars' grace (how about a victory walk corridor scene with shuffling frilled shirts that seems like a call back opposite to the soup stained, rejected walk of shame from an early 'La La Land' casting call?) subtely shines and rises above a male idiotic ideal that women are loved "in the kitchen and in the bedroom'. Showing that she'll be screwed around by nobody. She cooks with her racquet, not a pan. Even if Carell's character wants to fool around with a frying one, sugar-cane or sheep as he dresses up mockingly as Little Bo Peep for the most egotistical exhibitionism for this exhibition game Steve plays up with puerile perfection. But whilst the middle of the road game of this middle-age waning star looks to eat off the thin promise of 15 minutes of fame, young, prime, rising Stone's hard king has the thick skin to withstand all of this and let her game do the talking that writes cheques, not history and feeds more inspiration for history than fleeting fame of the moment. In this back and forth Carell's hustler knows how to pluck a buck as even the sound of his about to be rubbed together, clapping hands sounds like he's just hit a backhand. But oh how Emma's forever icon knows how to return, her retort being the people she raises not the trophy. Whilst Carell's Bobby thinks trophies are the bikini clad beauties that laugh nervously whilst he jokes they'll be washing his dishes after a photo op. But we all know who really cleans up as all bets are off for the woman who not only brings long overdue and much needed equality to gender politics, but the love of the sexes too. When Billie met Bobby makes for Academy actors Emma Stone and Steve Carell's greatest game in this movie match. But we all know who the real winner is.
And the mixed doubles of 'Little Miss Sunshine' directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris who brought the love life out of the 'Ruby Sparks' book not only come back together with Carell in this game of reunions, but also bring a full court of impressive talent. Controversial but compelling comedian Sarah Silverman continues polishing her acting resume. But unlike the fun 'Wreck It Ralph' and 'A Million Ways To Die In The West' movies that play to her hilarious strengths, 'Sexes' shows just how really good she is going to acting battle. Not even hiding behind those Tiffany Breakfast sunglasses when you really believe it's her, smoking those cigarettes that sponser the sport in satirical irony. Whilst 'Birdman', 'Oblivion' and 'The Rise Of Stalin' rising star Andrea Riseborough is a cut above the rest as Billie Jeans hairdresser, who is much more than a salon stop in a moving moment of hair and beauty. As this actress shows she is as creatively chameleonic as a new do and makeover. 'Cocktail' actress Elisabeth Shue is also here to show she's more than a 80's hairspray and diamond dress trophy wife. Whilst 'Bridge Of Spies' and 'Whiplash' standout Austin Stowell plays a magazine pin-up husband with a heart of gold most would dream of having in a locket. 'Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps' recognisable face Natalie Morales plays another top womens tennis player in King's corner, who also in an ABC play-by-play with a legendary news anchors palm patronisingly on her shoulder shows subtely just how sickening sexism can be even when men think they're reaching at exactly the opposite. Another recognisable face Eric Christian Olsen coaches Carell in a way that wants to mentor the real meaning of sport that does not sort through the money. But its the biggest names that pay off here. The theatrical, nightcrawling Vegas Cabaret star Alan Cumming is fantastic as a fashion designer, letting the stars stand out behind the sequins and seams. Whilst Presidential Bill Pullman is the great equalizer here playing the real villain here with scotch scoffing, bewildered boy behaviour. And to think this was the man that inspired the world against an alien invasion. We thought he was about independence?! But we know one woman who is. Standing up for everybody's individuality. Man, woman and whom ever you choose to love. Because there's more to this 'Battle Of Sexes', than man vs woman on a need to be even, level playing field. There's more to break here than a simple serve. And after this yearning year this fall favourite is a refreshing break like a bottle of orange cordial courtside. Something that plays hard to entertain on screen, but works even harder behind the scenes to educate. 'Battle Of The Sexes' takes on discrimination in all forms and serves for equality. Advantage...everybody! TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Further Filming: 'Borg vs McEnroe', 'Crazy, Stupid Love', 'Foxcatcher'.
Tuesday, 28 November 2017
A Bad Dads Christmas.
100 Mins. Starring: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Linda Cardellini, John Lithgow, Mel Gibson & John Cena. Director: Sean Anders.
This candy cane season the dads are back in town and driving home for Christmas. And for 'Daddys Home 2' there's even more parents to meet as we ask "whose your grandaddy"?! 'The Other Guys' Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg reunite for a third time for their middle-age, middling 'Step Brothers' like family farce. But when it comes to these other dads this festive season, in a Christmas vacation that tangles more slapstick in the Christmas lights than Chevy Chase's 'National Lampoon' you may aswell call this one 'Stepfathers'. Those 'Bad Moms' may be having their own grandmother Christmas right now with some mothers that I beg your pardon, frankly are even more hotter than they are, but this 'Daddys Home 2' for the holidays is the funniest bromance between the tinsle since Seth Rogen, Joesph Gordon-Levitt and Anthony Mackie partied 'The Night Before'. Adding more nutcracking punch to the egg nog, you're favourite yuletide man-child 'Elf' is back for something you shouldn't leave on the living room shelf. Even if those who left his other craps comedy with Amy Poehler on the snake eyes table this summer didn't realise (like admittedly this writer until an in-flight movie last week) that 'The House' actually wins as a classic feral Ferrell comedy. Your local 'Anchorman' has still got it like the whales vagina even if the Magnum mustache maverick has swapped the Burgundy new suits for some comfortable slacks and an ugly Xmas sweater. And now bringing out the even funnier side of his guy, the all-action, transforming muscle of Mark Wahlberg like that fuzzy friend of a Boston bear, the pair cop another classic to pop under the tree.
Just watch out...it may fall on you. As this time the co-parents of an on formidable form Ferrell slapping the stick and a wowing Wahlberg with the best lines here delivered with punch have more to worry about than car sharing and setting a five dollar limit on what each other is wrapping up when it comes to presents for this December 25th day. These two daddies have their pops popping over for a visit this fall and its not all mince pies and mistletoe as there are more stars here in this 'guess whose coming for turkey dinner' than on top of the tree. And just when Wahlberg and the oven mitt boxing, snowflake punch throwing Ferrell had their friendly chemistry set too. Looks like 'E.R.' star Linda Cardellini will be nursing a few mulled wines to get over this one as the good mother between it all who threatens to steal this snow show. Ferrell's father time comes in the form of crowning legend John Lithgow, playing it light again with the craziest comedy poking innuendo at family this side of the '3rd Rock From The Sun'. In funny face form he's barely been to the red sweater letter better and he and Ferrell in physical and improv routine comedy actually relate and feel like a father/son combo playing it all perfectly. After all it doesn't get much closer than locking lips. Dear John pulls a cracker playing a motor mouth conversationalist of a parent. Mark on the other hand would love to get a word in edge ways with his granite tough love father. Played with puncuation for letters by Wahlberg twenty years from now, no longer 'Expendable' legend Mel Gibson. The redemption, renaissance man back in public favour after directing the multiple Oscar nominated (for him too), war torn 'Hacksaw Ridge' with Andrew Garfield, this Mad Mel is a real lethal weapon here. Blowing snow and showing there's a funny side to his serious streak. Gibson plays it like a guitar gunning rock star here as this roses ageing 90's great shows he still is one. Even if he does offend everyone this side of Bethlehem.
Now the only thing that could possibly put the flaming smackdown on this Fantastic Fouresome itself is a former pro wrestler. And following his classic credits cameo in the first film John Cena shows us the real daddy is home. Off the ropes and rails and bringing us as many laughs at a locomotive pace as his 'Trainwreck' sexy time with queen of comedy, the stand-up Amy Schumer. As everyone and all are one upping each other and the sophomore slump like returning director Sean Anders did with the superb 'Horrible Bosses 2' in this nativity scene. Even truly going away in a manger in a shepard beard beating set-piece that almost rocks the baby Jesus. All softening down into a ice-cold snowball fight before anyone gets too offended that shows us that even after his best basketball in 'Semi-Pro', the All Star Will Ferrell can pump fake as well as he can throw a punch, or basketball to a L.A. Lakers cheerleader. But amazingly like 'Love Me Sexy', shows in concert that he has the voice of an angel...well one with broken wings anyway. That's the kind of schtick thats in this Ferrell and McKay produced playbook as everything from social screening satire at school plays and post-thanksgiving bird clipping will grab you by the giblets. But anytime the physical comedy flogs too many dead horses some of the best one-liners come marching in like the saints. And anytime they fall flatter than Snowmen on New Years day there are some heartbreaking and healing moments by the fire to warm you like John Hughes used to, 30 years later to the anniversary of Steve Martin and the Candyman's 'Planes Trains and Automobiles' for this Christmas time road trip. This chestnut roasts like open fire, leaving anyone who calls it a turkey...done! TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Further Filming: 'The Other Guys', 'Step Brothers', 'The House'.
Sunday, 26 November 2017
The Winter Soldier.
13 Episodes. Starring: Jon Bernthal, Ben Barnes, Amber Rose Revah, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Jaime Ray Newman, Daniel Webber, Michael Nathanson, Jason R. Moore, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Paul Schulze & Deborah Ann Woll. Creator: Steve Lightfoot.
One batch! War Machine. The Winter Soldier. Cross Bones with the skull. Call Netflix's New York anti-hero assassin 'The Punisher' all the Marvel monkiers you want, but in this graphic comic book, noir novel ultraviolence there's a beating heart behind that bulletproof vest. As to be Frank 'The Walking Dead's' Jon Bernthal is the king of Castle. Sorry Thomas Jane and Dolph. And we didn't make it to the opening batch of credits in episode one before this leather and lead character made this our new favourite binge-watched Marvel/Netflix show. Sorry Red! And to think you gave this murderer half a series Murdock. But now the scales of criminal justice lean to the punishment of the death penalty. And Bernthal's Frank Castle with the burner executes it all sniper-precision perfectly. He's surgical with this. Just like he is in Marlon methodological acting form-no Joker, Jared Leto bullets in the mail with Deadshot Will Smith's name on it disrespectful bull####-as meticulous as his mark cleaning and reloading his pistol like he was taking care of an old dog. With some new tricks up his sleeve too, Jon is the don as Frank Castle's Punisher in perfect preperation for pain. This is the same man who every day at the crack of dawn walked across the February freezing, Brooklyn Bridge to the 'Daredevil' set with a backpack weighing him down along with passerby comments warning him to not "f### this up". The same 'Fury' of a tank war torn soldier who wasn't able to see his newborn son whilst filming David Ayer's battle bloody epic alongside Brad Pitt until his kid was eight months old...talk about the haunting yearning for family. Hey this was the only wolf of Leonardo DiCaprio's who could sell you that damn pen. Supply and demand...BOOM! And after the maverick magazine of his definitive 'Daredevil' second season debut, Bernthal's Castle's Punisher widens the scope to a range that still hits from the King Kong aint got s### on him top of the Empire State Building, all the way to the street level, Marvel Netflix smartphone age streaming show. Continuing Marvel's cinematic magic on the smallest screen that still manages to pull even more tricks and weapons out the bag of 'Jessica Jones', 'Luke Cage', 'Iron Fist' and the devil of Hells Kitchen 'Defenders'. Following the kid Tom Holland's 'Spider-Man: Homecoming' to this universe in a scorching summer that started early with those 'Guardians Of The Galaxy' a-holes marching to 'Vol. 2' and still lasted through the Autumn/Fall of a fun 'Thor-Ragnarok' that continued the formidable force of a formula even 'Wonder Woman' couldn't quite lasso...(truth!). But this all-blackout Punisher like Fox's Wild West 'Logan' and the new years 'Black Panther' is a whole new animal before the real war of 'Infinity' begins. Now tell me this Friday would you rather join Batman and Superman's 'Justice League' or stay in and binge?
Two batch! But this time this one man, raw revenge ravaged, vigilante gun-show army does not go it alone. Even if a Marvel Asia, Far East trailer tease of him arming up with 'The Defenders' turned out to be empty shell casings. But here we are so entrenched with Castle-mania we don't mind if we don't see the lawyer in little boy pajamas with horns, the smart-mouthed, hot-shot private investigator, the man with unbreakable skin and the kid with the glowing fist at all. 'Hannibal' screenwriter and this showrunner Steven Lightfoot really has his fill...and boy does he eat. And at least he brings the journalistic integrity of 'True Blood'/'Daredevil' legal aid Deborah Ann Woll back to the table on fantastic form filling in for the first Netflix show the Night Nurse of Rosario Dawson doesn't patch up. Do you honestly think the Punisher's going to let anybody stitch him up? Besides everybody needs a best friend and pretty boy with scars, 'Dorian Gray' (spot the by the book Easter Egg) actor Ben Barnes is on brush stroke hand to put the puzzle pieces together and paint a perfect portrait, aswell as drop the Anvil. Cosying up to 'From Paris With Love' great cop Amber Rose Revah giving Simone Missick's Misty Knight a run for her legal strong-arm. Partnering up with 'The Knicks' oft-comical relief Michael Nathanson, with the mothering wisdom of 'The Promise's' Shohreh Aghdashloo watching over her here. The Micro chips of 'Girls' and 'The Lake House' actor Ebon Moss-Bachrach are also down as this tech survivalist crucified to a console plays a savvy spook who is haunted by the family he taps into and looks over on a screen but can't touch. Mothered by moving 'Eastwick' actress Jaime Ray Newman who is stay at home and alone with her agony whilst the Punisher plays pigskin catch, spiral throwing pops. Amazing australian actor Daniel Webber also boldly and brilliantly brings some down and out drama from under the skin of this skull bone to these storyline cartridges that intertwine with the influence of military and lost families and souls overseas or domestic. The war torn, shell shocked battle scars that we can't see on these young men that serve for their country and clearly visible to feel here. Especially in the best thing about this show apart from Frank in vet Jason R. Moore, running a Falcon grounding like support system group project that is more than just stacked chairs in a circle. There's a lot of heroes and fallen ones in this complex character study of the ultimate anti-hero that needs a real villain and has one in the vile eye of the recognisable face of T.V veteran Paul Schulze of 'Justice', 'Law & Order', 'NYPD Blue' 'CSI', 'Boston Legal', 'The West Wing', 'Suits', 'The Sopranos' and '24' fame. But for all those shows on the resume, Netflix and it's new different type of hero are saving how shows like this are run in streams.
Penny and dime! And you don't need a dozen reasons why plus a mixtape to reel to reel feel that these lucky 13 episodes available in a one shot instant breaks the recent Marvel/Netflix fatigue trend of too many episodes and too much exposition that even the eight wonder of 'The Defenders' didn't offend. Right from the black and chrome, instant classic, gun metal detail title sequence, scored by what on the matt-black surface sounds like the instrumental for a Cash and Cohen collabo. Right now this is the one to watch right away in full. Especially now you've finished watching 'Stranger Things 2', in addition to the week by week new 'Star Trek-Discovery' taking a Winter break hibernation hiatus and the falling 'House Of Cards' (with all due respect to First Lady Robin Wright's justified on screen turn) being something you shouldn't really watch justly anymore. Time for Spacey to see 'Orange Is The New Black'. Right from the Wolverine like trademark grunting and growling roar and first 'John Wick' sledgehammer to the concrete of a man with hipster hair and a lumberjack facial one working construction and just wanting to be left alone to his bricks and mortar. Following an oil drum burning of his white skull paint, bulletproof vest spraying signature past, buried like his family and their killers. The cement mixing beginning of looking out for the little guy sets in motion a behind the gun range of sub stories handily held and creative characters that exit as quickly as they enter. Focussing on news story at the moment topics like modern warfare (the 'Kandahar' catalystic episode playing out like a more serious Brad Pitt Netflix only 'War Machine' movie), domestic terroism, PTSD, military and police corruption and gun control. But if you nuts that think there's no bolts behind Castle's heavy metal Metallica just want a firefight, then just wait for the Pacino and De Niro heat that's coming towards the end of the line as the vets vest is velcro strapped back on for the last carousel ride of the night. And in this bullet train time, once Castle runs through these bad guys like moats you know it's not all water under a bridge. Bernthal, armed with not only an artillery arsenal and the Battle Van (and also a muscled up car chase chicken scene straight out the 'Bullitt homage screenplay playbook of 'Days Of Thunder' legend Tom Cruise's 'Jack Reacher') shows you the bruises behind the bullets that don't shatter the skin and in doing so he brute soulfully fleshes out this mere mortal mans character in a world full of enhanced superheroes like no other. After moonlighting as a bank robber who if you didn't see again would mean he was dead in this years best blockbuster 'Baby Driver' and in cameo form in Taylor Sheridan movies like 'Sicario' and 'Wind River' (not to mention banking in on a much more slick hitman assassin in Batman Ben Affleck's 'The Accountant'), 'The Peoples Champ' actor Jon Bernthal is back to make those accountable for their actions attainable. Raging with a real devil red anger only suppressed by silencing those with their finger on the trigger, Bern brings a sense of righteousness to his kill that could even floor Captain America and his all-American stars and stripes code. This buck is the real Winter Soldier with termination on this judgement day. Now we can only hope there is a second batch to this gunpowder plot for this war journal and it's Jon's raw and real compelling storytelling. As this one and done is a whiskey straight shooting, no blank, click-clack classic. BANG! Now reload. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Further Filming: 'Daredevil (Season 2)', 'The Punisher: War Zone', 'Captain America-The Winter Soldier'.
Tuesday, 7 November 2017
Dial P For Poirot.
114 Mins. Starring: Kenneth Branagh, Penelope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Daisy Ridley, Josh Gad, Derek Jacobi, Leslie Odom Jr., Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Olivia Colman, Michelle Pfeiffer, Judi Dench & Johnny Depp. Director: Kenneth Branagh.
To this day the writing of Agatha Christie DBE is just as legendary as Sir Ian Fleming or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's. Even if the Miss Marple creators lead detective Hercule Poirot is just a whisker away from the deerstalker and magnify glass of Sherlock Holmes, or secret agent with a license to kill and thrill, 007; James Bond. And this railroad trip on this most lavish line is by far and a train journey away her most prestigious piece of prose. There's been a 'Murder On The Orient Express'. And there's only one mustache that can solve it. We know the weapon in this game of Cluedo, we just need to know if it was the governess, the doctor, the maid, or even gangster with the dagger and in which compartment of the train was the deed done? Carriage by carriage each passenger is in a marriage together that they want to divorce themselves from. Everyone here is a suspect no matter where they point their fingers. And it's up to you the audience to figure out who before our esteemed lead does. Or if the very culprit themselves commits this type of carriage carnage again. In this race against time like running for the last train that's as heart-poundingly nerve-wracking and thrilling all at the same time. As this as outstanding as it is legendary train journey turns from fine dinner car dining and delightful desserts to an entree of violence. Best served revenge cold when the Orient becomes the polar express, when a visual trip through the snow softened mountains of Europe turns into a permanent postcard as this train derails in more ways than one before the real avalanche begins.
Murder was the case they gave that those without an accent call "Hercules". But whodunnit in this game of guess who? Lets take a look at the all-star cast of suspects. The professor? Played with precision frame perfection by the ever expressive as the lines in his face Willem Dafoe. Testing out his European accent before the sun of 'The Florida Project' and quite possibly the brightest spot of his career comes out. The missionary? Played with grace and dignity by international actress of acclaim Penelope Cruz who has proved she can play just about everybody and anybody with classic conviction, but never this subtely subdued. The governess? As 'Star Wars' Rey, Daisy Ridley blooms in this Scott Free epic and shows she is an awakening force of maturity and solidarity before we really wonder who the hell she is in this Decembers 'Last Jedi'. The assistant? Where 'Frozen's' Josh Gad really brings more chills to this tundra case as put this next to his partnership with Chadwick Boseman's 'Marshall' and you can see just how good an actor Gad is when he lets go of the Disney day job fun. Or even the butler? Played with stellar service from Great Brit and national treasure Derek Jacobi who from stage to screen has been in more legendary theatre than his movie legacy cares to give credit where due. Or did death make an appointment with the doctor? The only man who would know how to get away with such a crime so quietly a inconspicuously. As Leslie Odom Jr. (no relation to Lakers legend Lamar Odom), the breakout Broadway star of 'Hamilton' puts on one hell of a show. How about the salesman? The automobile man with a flair of put on for showroom charm? As after joining Denzel Washington's 'Mag 7', Manuel Garcia-Rulfo is truly magnificent here. Or maybe it was the maid? As this shy and retiring type cast for Olivia Colman of 'The Crown', 'The Lobster' and 'Broadchurch' fame seems to be hiding something more than her terrific talent of playing behind the notes but albeit at the same time as being in the forefront of this grand opera of murder.
Legends can deceive to...no matter how big their name. Like the 'mother!' of all ones in this industry Michelle Pfeiffer. The black widow here still Catwoman sleek and sneaky with a dangerous mind as after tormenting Jennifer Lawrence this Summer, this fall there's more than grace hiding behind those furs and pearls. Just like the princess. Or should we say the dame? As miss Judi Dench (or should we say Ma'am?) is on the money here like M as an American socialite sickingly insincere with a crown full of jewels. But our queen 'Mrs. Brown' who made us fall all head and heels in love again with her new boy in 'Victoria and Abdul' is really having another legacy making year for her unconquerable legend. And as devilishly funny as 'Philomena' asking about the "c" word amongst all the lost child haunting drama, you'll just love the amazing accent. Or speaking of accents maybe the murderer really was the gangster. As Johnny Depp takes off the 'Pirates' hat and peg-leg, rum stumbling British veneers and plays an American gangster that Ridley Scott would be proud of. All long leather trenchcoat, Ratchet walther, Dapper Dan hair slick and razor-thin moustache that cuts like one of his scars. The only thing Johnny's intimidating but inspired veneer is missing is a Tommy by his side as Depp's new depths guns for post roaring twenties, 1930's Goodfella glory. Just wait until this Pirate in 'Donnie Brasco' form unwraps a whole new 'Dark Universe' to become 'The Invisible Man'. Looks like the only one who can see the truth here is Poirot and with a maverick moustache of a top lip scarf, Kenneth Branagh is the best thing to happen to this story this Movember since Suchet. After his definitive role in 'Dunkirk' and his flair for the blockbuster big-screen direction in the avenging norse of 'Thor', Branagh goes hammer and nail with 'Ragnarok' in his best time in front of and behind the camera and crime yet. This double-act really is decadent in the stylised look of this classic and the modern day telling substance that lies beneath. He's funny, forthright and formidable in his quest for justice and peace. Or whatever comes first. A finale fitting usual suspects table read line-up has last supper imagery for someone who we suspect as having their last meal and his one-shot carriage to chamber walk around the crime scene unlocks even more than meets the cinematic clue discovering eye. This visionary and visceral tour on the Orient is the most thrilling trip on an old train since Robert Downey Jr.'s 'Sherlock Holmes' had a 'Game Of Shadows' and dress up with his dear Watson. Now as this railroad makes its final stop there will be tears as it departs once more like parted lovers running after the smoke. But still fear not for if you are still in Agatha denial Branagh has a river in Egypt to sell you. Until death does us part again...au revoir. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Further Filming: 'Murder On The Orient Express (1974)', 'Death On The Nile', 'Sherlock Holmes-A Game Of Shadows'.
Sunday, 5 November 2017
We don't deserve Tom Hanks...or at least Hollywood doesn't. In a once inspired industry (despite previous problems that still needed to be resolved), now well and truly corrupted by the cruel and callous behaviour of some of those in power who have harassed and abused for countless victims and decades. All until the rise of to the minute social media has given them nowhere to hide and those without one finally...a voice. Even when some of the biggest names in the business have been sullied, Tom Hanks remains a constant beacon of light and truth. The actors actor. The regular working mans Hollywood star. The Bruce Springsteen of movies. The Boss even gave him quite the Academy Award winning intro for his Oscar moment fighting injustice for the LGBT community decades before Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto's 'Dallas Buyers Club' did in 'Philadelphia'. Hanks has been doing this since the early eighties. Even years before this now 32 year old writer was born. And not to make anyone sound old but you know we've all grown up with him too. From the 'Turner and Hooch', 'Big' fun of the eighties, to the 'Captain Phillips' or 'Sully' saviours of the real world he plays tribute to these days.
Hanks has saved a private named Ryan, brought togther a band of brothers, taken on a ship hijacked by Somali pirates and survived and landed a plane in...no ON New York's Hudson River. He's survived on a desert island with nothing but a volleyball, told us life was like a box of chocolates and even caught Leonardo DiCaprio like no one else can. Not to mention he's played both Walt Disney and Pixar's next generation own cowboy with a snake in his boots, Woody. He's done it all and we haven't even mentioned the 'Apollo 13', 'Green Mile' and 'Bridge of Spies' best. Let alone the trilogy of Dan Brown works and partnership of Meg Ryan romantic comedies. Did you just miss the fact that this guys been to space? Is there anything he can't do. Well apparantly not. Because after directing and managing his own band, coaching a womens baseball team featuring Madonna and becoming C.G.I. for a yuletide trip on a train more lavish than the Orient Express every Christmas (not to mention bringing into this world an all acting and rapping lookalike son), Hanks senior has shown he can put pen to paper too. Or is that hands to paper roll and carriage and fingers to keys? As Tom releases his most personal project yet from the desk of his home study...'Uncommon Type'.
And bringing us the best of common people like you like he does in his movies with this pulp fiction, Hanks is just the type for this sort of side-project venture. Not a long-awaited, sought after autobiography which we will hope to amazingly read one day, 'Uncommon Type' is even better. A classic collection of seventeen sweet and at times soberingly somber short stories from the man who has played them all. And here he gives a voice to the rest too in this wide world of wonder. A man dating a younger, more active woman who completely turns his life around...whether he likes it or not. A father driving home for Christmas with more than egg nog, family and present anxiety on his mind. A young actress looking for her big break and her place in the city. A group of friends on an exhibition, trying to populate Mars like Matt Damon's 'Martian'. And a local bowling alley hero bigger than Lebowski amongst so many more weird and wonderful characters and the stories they share. Not to mention some old fashioned newspaper blurbs from 'The Burbs' actor in journalistic character going against the broadsheet beating social media type. These columns and chapters all share something in type too. Not only so they feature in some small or significant way a reference to the greatest tool between the ages of the pen and the laptop in the hallowed typwriter, they were all perfectly wrote on one too. As each story stars with a beautiful black and white portrait of a different type of this magical machine in all its mechanics matching the outstanding, orange Penguin jacket of this instant modern classic looking read. This isn't the Tom Hanks you know. But this is what the readers truly want. A different side of the Hollywood star. And hats off to all his quirky short stories and whimsical writing with so much soul. Ones that like his legacy lasting, legendary roles get to the heart of what's most important in this world, an individuals character. And in the world of entertainment no one has more than Tom. "Hankful". TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Friday, 3 November 2017
The Dear Hunter.
121 Mins. Starring: Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Barry Keoghan, Raffey Cassidy, Sunny Suljic, Bill Camp & Alicia Silverstone. Director: Yorgos Lanthimos.
Dear oh deer. It seems in today's world revenge is a dish brutally served colder than a operating table where someone now resting in peace used to lay in the clinical and calculated, captivating thriller and dark and disturbing pyschological horror of 'The Killing Of A Sacred Deer'. Vegans fear not. No deers where harmed in the making of this movie. Not even a Milwaukee Buck. But in this Cincinatti clinic some humans hurt some more in this hospital bedside, mild-manner that tries to examine the depth of the human condition under a microscope that just a regular X-ray just won't show in all it's gray matter. It looks like Irish actor Colin Farrell and director Yorgos Lanthimos really are each others 'Lobster' Phoebes. Because here this Doctor and director bring us a Greek like tragedy of unfathomable decision in the same tense and taught vein as the choice Meryl Streep had to make as 'Sophie'. And here after giving us a manufactured dating world, future fable and modern parable in the maddening oddity of the love in the face of boiling cauldron in 'The Lobster' (that really did display cruelty to animals...or was that humans?), they reunite as Farrell does with Australian Academy actress Nicole Kidman after Colin chose between here and the likes of Elle Fanning and Kirsten Dunst in 'Lost In Translation' director Sofia Coppola's classic remake of Clint Eastwood's act in 'The Beguiled' (coincidentally this is the first film this writer watched without a trailer tease since Colin and Nicole's last one and trust it from me it makes it all the more, fellow A24 picture 'Moonlight' like mesmerizing). But this time Farrell's decision making process is much more forlorn and born from love and not lust as all these perfect partnerships come together for a big-three picture. And one of epic, explosive nuclear family proportions matching those of the bible on your bedside table, as this raw wrath of revenge in bloodied surgical gloves really does go for the jugular of your every emotion and sense of being.
A movie of the year 'A Ghost Story' (also A24. A+ guys!) like, hauntingly beautiful operatic opening in blackness that seems to last for a whole aria (so much so that you may just leave your seat to tell the usher the screens on the fritz before this one reaches a standing ovation), cumilates into an out of nowhere surgeons eye-view of an open heart procedure that beats as yours palpitates. And from there you are as captivated as the stirring strings of this scintillating score to not look away for a second like your life, or the one of the one you loved depended on it. Now like too many cooks looking over a broth, we don't want to spoil the plot. But here's a little stock set-up. Colin's character is one of surgical precision like a sought after wrist watch with a metal strap thats water resistant at a depth more than 100 meters. Stay with us. Even if that's what his mind is on in time. This recovering alcoholic with a cider beard that is as the millennial girls say; "goals", has a case of malpractice on his hands after failing to save a patient whilst under the Jack and coke influence. Now despite looking out for the family his shaking hands tore apart, the son of the dearly departed wants more than a mentoring father figure even if that is his replacement ravaged goal for him and his widowed, weeping willow strong mother. Now in true old testament style this kid who barely looks like he has any hair on his arms (cue that deer hunting beard) blood-lust wants an eye for an eye. But he's never killed anyone before. But if you who know has I bet you can tell what's coming next? Or can you?! As plauged with the most purile and pathological problem a domestically disturbed husband and father could ever possibly have, Farrell is forced to perform a procedure so out of his power or even the heart of his bruised and battered (not to mention memory serves, alcohol soaked) soul to do so. And taking his own life by his own beautiful, surgical hands is so far from an option that it's not even considered. Yes this movie is insane on a maddening 'mother!' Jennifer Lawrence scale. Yes it is even crueller to boot. But his somehow beautifully bleak, weird wonder that's slashed lip kissing cousins with it's 'Lobster' pincer holder is gripping in its gravitas and its grounding, cut-throat nature with cold metal implementation.
Lanthimos has us from the "I'll explain this quickly" go before he takes his terrifyingly taught and twisted time with each turn of plot. In this harrowing hour by hour horror that haunts us like the open, one shot hospital corridor left and rights that show us how chillingly lonely this place and life really can be when your permanent residence ends up right here between the ice white changed sheets. Whether professional or personally in patient. Yorgos unamiously has us as the next, direct directing great of hidden meaning and destroying depths just like the arrival of the current best in the business in the form of the 'Enemy' and 'Prisoners' arresting Denis Villeneuve who has truly illuminated the mainstream with this years neon lights blockbuster best in the '2049' sequel of 'Blade Runner'. And here the closest thing to Kubrick today brings his favourite Irishman off the whiskey to show that the ever underrated Colin Farrell is ever one of the greats of our generation of acting. A far cry from the also android and sheep Phillip K. Dick rewrote 'Minority Report' and 'Total Recall' days of his electric dreams youth, Colin with this in collaboration with 'The Lobster' and 'The Beguiled' is at his bravest and best ever since he was 'In Bruges'. And for all the socially akward, clinical dialogue served in stunted monotone mannerisms for dramatic and nuclear home caustic effect in this distracted age, the weathered and worn character Colin Farrell brings to the forefront is the most evokingly effecting. Even with a fellow 'Beguiled' Nicole Kidman by his side. The 'Lion' Academy Award nominated actress who is about to be a Queen in the 'Aquaman' adaptation of the 'Justice League' has a career on cruise control right now in 2017. From the big screen to even the linings of the small one (see the smart phone screen standouts of native 'Top Of The Lake' and Renee Zellwegger's 'Big Little Lies' for truth proof), but here hauntingly heartfelt she's barely been better in this smaller but nore significant big picture. Mothering two children coupled together by madness in the stranger things happening to Natalie Dyer lookalike and 'Tomorrowland' actress Raffey Cassidy and new kid on the block for tomorrow Sunny Suljic, looking for a brighter day. But even though these kids are more than alright, it's 'Trespass Against Us' actor Barry Keoghan who really is grown as this fellow Irishmen goes from sharing an odd charm with Farrell to being his every nightmare in ways you wouldn't exepect at all. What starts as the most concerningly bizarre partnership turns into a thing thankfully a million miles from sexual, but intead something that really does f### with you even more. If you felt sorry for this kid Barry in 'Dunkirk' then after this you won't anymore. But boy is this young man even bolder and better than he was in Nolan's war for the bringing of our boys from the beaches. Almost convincingly too good. Perfectly peculiar like a Dane DeHaan or Charlie Heaton second coming of strange. He show steals from a classic caliber cast that even features a brilliant Billy Camp (who recently has done the rounds over the years with the likes of 'Lawless', 'Public Enemies', 'Black Mass', '12 Years A Slave', 'Loving', 'Midnight Special' et al) and 'Clueless' actress Alicia Silverstone bordering on 'Bates Motel' like motherhood stuck in one cameoing housebound, homecooked dinner and a movie scene that really does feel like 'Groundhog Day', but aren't you glad you visited again? But as this film finally comes round to a day by day, waking hour, sleepless night awakening end, friends Farrell and Lanthimos make a deer rifle killing. In something sickeningly twisted but cinematically sacred. And what a cross to bear that is. What a choice it is in this life my dear. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Further Filming: 'The Lobster', 'The Beguiled', 'A Cure For Wellness'.
Saturday, 28 October 2017
130 Mins. Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Karl Urban, Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson, Idris Elba, Anthony Hopkins & Benedict Cumberbatch. Director: Taika Waititi.
SMASH! The god of Thunder tumbles through a helicarrier hangar with a big green blob of a blur bounding down with him and lands thump, flat face-down. He lifts his head up and wipes his nose. Remember what Mickey Rourke said about "if you can make God bleed" in 'Iron Man 2'. Holding his hand out for Mjolnir, Thor cracks a wicked smile. Strike one! 'Ragnarok' rocks and Thor's thunderously charming third time round is lucky for Marvel fans in a gaming mood for fun, frolicing escapism from another case of "Shakespeare in the park". Right before things get real dark as all the Avengers are taken to 'Infinity' next year. So before war and posted after the 'Civil' one that the two most powerful members of the team weren't even invited too (and to think they didn't even send a raven), it's time to dust off mothers drapes again. As the Asgardian God in warrior mode takes on that incredible green giant once again to show Iron Man and Captain America a real "work friends" feud and fight, no Hulk Buster suit required. If only he had a hammer. Following 'Spider-Man: Homecoming' keeping Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark webbed up, this is the ultimate team-up movie that rights be damned may aswell be called 'Thor vs Hulk' like one of those classic crossover comics. But these gods and monsters aren't the only superheroes to spar in this great cape escape as stranger things are happening here like logging on to your Netflix to binge stream the upside down right now. After 'Murder On The Orient Express' conductor and Poirot mustache himself Kenneth Branagh killed it with the first 'Thor' movie that set the God of mischief Loki villainy under Thanos for the first 'Avengers' assemble, 'Thrones' director Aaron Taylor brought a game of realms to 'The Dark World' sequel. But now New Zealand, 'What We Do In The Shadows' and 'The Hunt For The Wilderpeople' director Taika Waititi makes this trilogy conclusion worth the wait as this Kiwi gives the Aussie Chris Hemsworth from down under his best comedy chops since he stole the show in the new female 'Ghostbuster' franchise last summer. And the funniest fun exchange with Mark Ruffalo's Bruce Banner since they made a stop at New York's Grand Central Station and punched more than a ticket. An Australian dressed like something out or norse mythology and another one twice the size ripping through even big and tall shirts but keeping his purple pants on? You have to laugh as this can't be serious. Besides when it comes to Thor and his new sidekick a little bit bigger than a sidecar you wouldn't like this if he was angry.
Locks chopped and hammers nailed Thor is still worthy of these realms, even if it isn't Mjolnir time anymore. As the head of the Hemsworth house continues to plant his family trees Hollywood roots more than a Skarsgard. Even without Stellan...or Natalie Portman's Jane Foster for that Thor matter (and don't get us started on 'Broke Girl' Kat Dennings or the 'Blindspot' of Jaimie Alexander). The hunk next to the Hulk still bringing that very, very frightening thunderbolt of lightning like Galileo, no matter who wants to dirty his blonde mane. Hesmworth has the strong arms and the comedy ribs like his 'Huntsmen' weapons and proton packs, making this truly a rush. Colouring the most vibrant Thor movie and possibly the most entertaining Marvel cinematic universe one this side of the 'Guardians Of The Galaxy' yet like 70's retro Pink Floyd's and Zeppelin's. Adding an even bigger shade of green to this superhero supernova spectrum. And we aren't talking about the coat of his bawdy brother in arms. Even though the terrific Tom Hiddleston is back as the manifest his own luck Loki, after "dying" so emotionally in the last movie which this one delightfully ruins in more ways than one. The devil may care, God of trickery is up to the games his reputation proceeds him for, but the hilarious and heartwarming Hiddleston makes sure it never gets old. Always adoptingly familiar to family as these squabbling siblings make for some great back and forth with the equal heart and hilarity of Hemsworth. And just like in 'The Dark World' when they're not trading blows or banter ones this duo that is more dynamite than dynamic makes for a great one, two punch of action. That is until we meet the ham farm fists of fury of Hulk's real "frenemy" in the man made monster he's fought more times than the Chitauri or an Ultron drone. That's right The Incredible Hulk is back and this time the Gamma rays are on full as he's smashing everything in the Gladiator arena like Waititi was trying to remake and take it all the way to 'Planet Hulk' (and check out his more than a cameo, scene stealing character of comic genius we wont spoil but just rocks). We may never get a Hulk solo movie, but after Eric Bana and Edward Norton made Marvel green in other ways, the envy of them Mark Ruffalo is an incredible mean, green machine. By far the best Bruce Banner since Bill Bigsby truly made Hulk sad in that sweet and sincere seventies show that until now was the only thing that got this goliath giant right. And with more Lou Ferrigno growling dialogue and a new trimmed and beaded look that's all "Hulk Fleek", Ruffalo does more than ruffle a few feathers as Loki isn't the only one he uses like Thor's hammer.
Now no spoiler, this doesn't happen but wouldn't this be the perfect post credits scene to set you up for next years 'Infinity War'? Hulk and Thor are recovering from whatever happens at the end of this movie when out of nowhere Iron Man lands down in trademark fashion. And as they look in surprise his visor flips up and Tony Stark tells them he needs their help. He needs his team back. Looking a little like "didn't you get my e-mail", Thor replies "you and whose army"? To were on que, out of the shadows comes the bearded Nomad of Captain America. OOH! Right? That would be the best fake post credits scene since that kid came up with that Stark Tower Spider-Man window cleaning one for the 'Age Of Ultron'. But you know these days as you wait around twice whilst all the ushers pick up all the rubbish all you see is another Captain Rogers P.S.A. telling you offer them a helping hand. You'll just have to wait for the 'Black Panther', or settle for a classic cameo here even better than the traditional Stan Lee one. Because in this epic ensemble the only things missing here is a 'Team Thor' roommate Darryl cameo. And why wait for war or remain civil when you can watch the Revengers assemble? As 'Creed' fighter straight outta 'Westworld' Tess Thompson, playing the M.C.U.'s first LBGT character as the Valkyrie is valiant and show stealing like her boxing beau Michael B. Jordan looks to be next year with panther power. Besides the God of Thunder, his frosty brother and even the Hulk will need all the help they can get against another green familiar foe in the form of Hela the Goddess of death. Played hellishly perfectly by Academy actress Cate Blanchett. Here mixing her 'Lord Of The Rings' days with some Loki like reindeer games and the bald bones of a machine gun totting destroyer, Karl Urban by her rebellious servant like side. This queen isn't the only evil threatening Thor's kingdom of realms. As an always delightful Jeff Goldblum brings his trademark off-script flash as the Grandmaster and an outfit that looks like it could have been his own (after his recent glitter turtle neck under a suit, chat show look saw him off-topic offer everyone lozenges between regailed stories of nose trimming techniques that only he could make fascinating. Like him backing up soul sensation Gregory Porter on piano (just Youtube "Grahama Norton: Jeff Goldblum"...oh you're so welcome)). The brother of Benicio Del Toro's crafty collector creating this Contest Of Champions like your favourite Marvel mobile game and even having an off-screen 'Jurassic Park' reunion of sorts before the 'Independence Day' resurgent star joins Chris Pratt's Star-Lord for the 'Fallen Kingdom' of a whole new 'Jurassic World' next year. There's even more here on offer in Marvel's most epic and legendary all-star cast yet by the eye of iconic Anthony Hopkins' fatherly fond Odin and of course an inspired Idris Elba's gatekeeper gone dreadlock rogue. Sword fighting back after critics left the two gun slinging barrels of his 'Dark Tower' empty. And what would all these strange days be without an appointment with you're local New York, Greenwich village Doctor off Bleeker Street like 'Sherlock's' Baker Street? As 'Doctor Strange' post-credit and trailer teased Benedict Cumberbatch's uncredited cameo would have worked better as a surprise, but is still one of the funniest things in this film full of fancy fantasy and fun. Taika could have made this tacky, but instead out of the 'Wilderpeople' shadows he remakes this all his own. And what a Marvel it is as nothing is 'Thor-mulaic' in the comics corralled culture that keeps reprinting like the Daily Bugle. If more of the anti-D.C. movies are going to take themselves this seriously than forget about 'Infinity War'. We want 'Thor 4'! ANOTHEEEER!!! TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Further Filming: 'Thor', 'The Incredible Hulk', 'Avengers Assemble'.