Tuesday, 31 January 2017



Lion King.

118 Minutes. Starring: Dev Patel, Rooney Mara, David Wenham, Priyanka Bose, Abhishek Bharate, Sunny Pawar & Nicole Kidman. Director: Garth Davis.

Roaring onto screens like a packed express at rush hour, 'Slumdog' star Dev Patel has become the millionaires actor we all want to be thanks to banking on a career as dynamic as it is diverse. First there was Danny Boyle's classic lifeline and then two stops booked in 'The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel'. And who could forget 'Chappie'? As modern day Phillip K. Dick gave us a South African, dystopian future fable for the modern day, alive like Johnny 5. Dev's devastatingly good acting has always given the desperate nature of his films a measure of brilliance. And now the once Rookie of the Year becomes an All-Star as he nabs his first 'Best Actor' nomination for a film with an Academy of Oscar candidates. Gosling, Affleck, Garfield and Washington watch out. The pride of this 'Lion' could attack the 'Fences' of 'Hacksaw Ridge' and 'Manchester By The Sea' by 'Moonlight'. It could even be an outside threat in taking down old Hollywood's 'La La Land' in the Oscars race this year off the Walk of Fame. Don't accept this hand? Then dance around this film and it's stirring subject for two hours, from pillar to post and from Academy favourites like Nicole Kidman and 'Carol's' Rooney Mara, to new international actors about to make acquaintance with acclaim, just like the awards season likes. Come one night in a February full of stars, this 'Lion' could be king.

'Lion' is about a boy on a train which won't stop for days. Running away from his brother, his family and the life he knew as a child. Based on the book 'A Long Way Home' of the true story of Saroo Brierley, this tragic tale lost in translation and found in raw, emotional redemption concerns the current plight of many lost children in India who find themselves torn from family and bound to poverty and the threat of abuction for profit and abuse that still happens to this day. This is all too real and this is one story of many, even if this one in a million mans journey has to be walked and told for both its sheer magnitude and gratitude of a life lived again and the voice it gives to others as we walk in the shoes of those who may never have an answer to a call home again. And we are taken to this calling with cinematic and dramatic brilliance from director Garth Davis. Who has gone from episodes of the critically acclaimed, Australian drama 'Top Of The Lake' to Academy nominations for one of this years best pictures. One portrait that is a vivid, visceral, emotional experience unlike any you'll find impossible to take your glazed eye from this year. Which will hopefully heal and help the current state of harm from hearts that seems worlds apart. And that's thanks to the soul of the dear performamces here. Just like the welled up passion of a perfect Patel who has never been better. And yes we've seen 'Slumdog'. But this afforded acting takes us a million miles more. All culminating in a heartbreakingly beautiful final scene that tenderly touches the rawest nerve of emotion. Once this caged lion is set free.

And that's what the Oscar should go to. Although there are many others that could take it. Just like the Academy graduated Rooney Mara. 'The Girl With A Dragon Tattoo' that showed positive 'Side Effects' when leaving 'The Social Network'. But until now has never looked this good in a leading role since starring alongside Cate Blanchett's 'Carol' last year. But here she is arguably just as good playing Patel's stand by her man love interest (their across the street, side-by-side flirtatious love is as sweet as it is sincere), all whilst showing her own independence just like she did alongside 'Manchester By The Sea' Best Actor favourite Casey Affleck in 'Aint Them Bodies Saints'. You have to love this spirit. Just like the one of '300' and 'Lord Of The Rings' star David Wenham in fostering fatherly mode. Or Abhishek Bharate brilliant as a beautifully loving brother, destined as an actor to find stardom. Just like the mothering of a moving Priyanka Bose. A role that 'Eyes Wide Shut' and 'Hours' legend Nicole Kidman-who last bowled us over mentally in 'Before I Go To Sleep'-adopts amazingly. The 'Australia' actress in the heart of down under takes us even deeper emotionally to a core of a mother that may be bilogical, but is as every bit as loving, all the way down to a celluar level. The weight Kidman carries with this representation of one who did even more is tremendous. But it's our introduction to the dawn of Sunny Pawar's career that may be the most potent and powerfully inspired. Sunny needs a nomination by the light of next day because he's set to see the stars too. This adorable child actor is also amazing too in his role you will feel it's real it's that raw and evoking. As much a 'Lion' as Patel, Pawar gives promise to all those poor children lost in real life that someone is watching out for them and care too. What this young man does for those who are often ignored is too brave to turn away from. Now hear him roar. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

See This If You Liked: 'Slumdog Millionaire', 'Australia', 'Wild'.

Saturday, 28 January 2017



The White Swan.

99 Minutes. Starring: Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard, Greta Gerwig, Billy Crudup, Richard E. Grant & John Hurt. Director: Pablo Larrain.

Inauguration's of late have left us not sure what to do with our new First Lady like Michelle Obama with Melenia Trump's gift...let alone our new leader of the "free" world. So perhaps it's time for a little historic and cinematic relief as 'Black Swan' wing spreading actress Natalie Portman plays 'Jackie' Kennedy. Wife of JFK and arguably the most famous and foremost iconic First Lady in the halls of White House history, next to the one who has just left us and the one who could have been President this year. Now as people are fearing The Donald may even trump Bush, the Kennedy's on the other hand were celebrated like the Obama's and Clinton administration. Sure they made maddening mistakes, but back in their time they represented a hope alongside the activist likes of Martin Luther King Jr and Malcolm X that we only saw in entertainers of conscience like Muhammed Ali and Bob Dylan after all that was ended with a bullet. 'Jackie' takes up the story of Mrs. Kennedy after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in his motercade only two years and some two months into his campaign. And this indie picture of a woman of great independence is a sombre affair. A delicate but unfliching portrait and perfect portrayal of aching beauty. Just like 'Carol' at last years Academy, this years 'Best Actress' Oscar should already come with a name on it.

Because that's just how good Natalie is as 'Jackie'. The moment she lights Jacqueline's first cigarette on 'No' director Pablo Larrain's first English language movie and slow burner you just know she has the owness to play Onassis...even of Mrs. Kennedy didn't smoke. Lighting a fire inside, Portman simmers aswell as shimmers on the outside as this political figure of great beauty, but also great substance. It's subtle but incredible work that is the hallmark of real acting as this genuine 'V For Vendetta' star puts the 'J' in 'Jackie' in this classic character study. Showing both this womans worth and work and taking us through her hard to swallow, but easy to sympathise grief, from her wardrobes to her medicine cabinet. A sheer compelling Natalie nurses Jackie captivatingly with her black widow haunting behind Mica Levi of 'Under The Skin's' same vein crawling score. From showing us round the White House in that infamous tour television special (that is captured so well in black and white by actor and director that the first time you see it you think it's the real thing like the 'Bobby' flashbacks) to packing up her things with personal effect on leaving her stately home, Natalie embodies everything. The gait, the husky voice and hallowed demeanour. All with a presence of poise. She bares the soul of a woman troubled by the harrowing death of her husband and the torture of the press...and those around her who act the same. But she does it all his a great class. The only thing more elegant should be the gold statue that Portman will end up holding in honor of a woman worth more than an award too. Even if 'La La Land's Emma Stone and the underrated Meryl Streep is in the same category. Natalie Portman was sensational taking us physically through the growth of the 'Black Swan'. But speaking to us emotionally in 'Jackie' she's sublime.

Still in this political piece the cabinet is full on Larrain's lavish detail and that's thank to some great hands in the West Wing playing this house of falling cards like aces. The always accented and almost in everything Peter Sarsgaard is brilliant as Bobby Kennedy. From the delivery to the demeanour. The man who most recently made the most of little weight of screen time in Johnny Depp's 'Black Mass' and then made good on the bad guy in the epic remake of the classic 'The Magnificent Seven' deserves a picture of his own. Even as a man who has been portrayed or at least the subject of many films and series' from 'Bobby' to Greg Kinnear's 'The Kennedy's'. 'Greenberg' actress Greta Gerwig is also great as Jackie's aide Nancy. Standing right by her side and showing us this is her year to rival all the other up and comers after 'Maggies Plan' and 'Mistress America'. Time for Captain Marvel, Brie Larson to make room. Don't confuse the two...no matter how great last years best actress was. This years one is interviewed by 'Watchman's' Doctor Manhattan Billy Crudup who brings journalistic integrity to his piece and a narrative thread that lumbers through the periods present day and past tense scenes all cumilating in that moment of cruel infamy where J.F.K. was taken from Jackie captured with nauseating realness and raw emotion from Natalie. The British are also coming to America in the form of 'Withnail and I's' legendary Richard E. Grant. Such an English gentelmen he was probably born in the halls of Oxford and Cambridge, E. Grant is so good at being American we can't wait to see him convince us at being a Marvel villain in the most anticipated blockbuster of the new year in Hugh Jackman's last claw at X-Men's Wolverine in 'Logan'. But it's another great British national treasure that shows real heart as the late, great John Hurt is perfect as an ever present priest. The 'Elephant Man', 'Midnight Express' and 'Harry Potter' legend who we learnt sadly passed away the morning of writing this is dearly missed. But legacy leaving incredible here in what sadly will now remain one of his last roles even talking God and the great beyond. But what a role...and what an actor. This is decicated to John and the late, great 'Jackie' who inspires us all to this day. A real lady. First and foremost. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

See This If You Liked: 'Black Swan', 'Carol', 'Bobby'.

Thursday, 26 January 2017



The Amazing Desmond T. Doss.

139 Minutes. Starring: Andrew Garfield, Sam Worthington, Teresa Palmer, Luke Bracey, Rachel Griffiths, Hugo Weaving & Vince Vaughn. Director: Mel Gibson.

Silence is due for all those brave, young men who lost their lives to the violence of war. But lets take a moment to give voice to a man who took no lives in return. The passion of a conscientious objector who ran into the same trenches as his band of brave brothers who fought. But without a fixed bayonet. Or even so much as a clenched fist. A man who wanted to heal and do no harm. A medic who just wanted to save privates and men of honor alike. The bravest heart. The amazing Desmond T. Doss. This is the true story of the real soldier with the genuine heart to save as many souls as he could in the war without firing a single bullet. Some called it cowardice. Now we have the consciousness to wake up to the fact that this might be one of the most heroic stands ever made in history. Because Private Doss may have not battled...but you can be damn sure he went to war. His medal belongs proudly on his chest next to his huge heart. And now an Academy Award may adorn Oscar nominated 'Best Actor', Andrew Garfield. Fresh off his definitive double-acts first part featuring Martin Scorsese's, thirty years in the making, real life religious epic 'Silence', worthy of an honor in itself. That like this when it comes to its central character and hero speaks louder than a volume of a thousand. Right after our director yells action to our new leading man to script these stories and their account of history. And our director in this non-lethal, no weapon thin, red line story? No other but battle hard 'Braveheart' Mel Gibson, who is back in the directors and Academy Awards nominee chair after 'The Passion Of The Christ' and all the controversy that followed. But this is more than redemption. This is respect overdue in honor for a one man revolution.

Diving and bulldozing through the trenches like a wrecking ball that's actually trying to put all the devestation in his path back together, Andrew Garfield is amazing as Desmond T. Doss. A war hero who saved 75 lives and rescued all these wounded men, bringing them back over 'Hacksaw Ridge'...or what may aswell have been Everest, with a rain of bullets, colder and sharper than any ice storm. Now Adam may have not had the best of luck against the Japanese armed with just his Bible of late but the man who brought the real Peter Parker akward shyness out of Marvel's cocky, bravado Spider-Man has really grown up and sensed the type of roles he's meant to play. This actor really is giving his 'best'. Catching the sweet but strong spirit of this Christian who fears no man, but what they can do to each other, Garfield goes beyond the call of duty is saluting Doss who would never let a single man go. Showing the consciousness of this miracle maker in every measure of heart and nuance of soul. From the strings plucked as he falls in love in his life before war, to the strains of inner strength as this skinny kid rappell ropes his men down a cliff face like they were abseiling (it's a good job he knows how to tie a perfect windsor...or brassiere!). In 'Silence' Garfield grew out his hair and beard so much he's make the lord proud. Here in more subtle tones this Dapper Dan, Brylcreem backed, clean shaven look catches the feel and the tone of a young man (even if in real life Desmond looked more like his other co-star Adam Driver) his age in war times, all the way down to the 'yes ma'am' respectful cadence. So much so he has a skip in his step when he's with the women he loves and a spirit in his stride when he's with the brothers he'd lay down and die for...but not kill for.

Gibson knows however that if Doss wasn't lethal, the weapons of war always are and with relentless fury he brings the trench to trench action right to your opened jugular. The violence in 'Hacksaw Ridge' is like a hacksaw to the bones. The horrific and harrowing, war torn bodies and blood in battle echoes 'Braveheart' and the lashings of 'The Passion', but lieing somewhere between his ill-advised 'We Were Soldiers' and the greatest war film of all-time 'Saving Private Ryan', the ultraviolent scenes here bring a jarring realism that wakes you up to what it was really like, no holes barred...and doesn't let you close your eyes to it. You'll lose sleep after this one...but this is war and what it does to people. Best to experience it on screen for what it really was. These are the parts the history books don't show, but pages that need to be turned. These days textbooks don't get the youths attention and recognition...cinder blocks do. Even if some gory moments should be handled more tastefully and respectfully, the style to Mel Gibson's dynamite damaging directing has raw substance of reality meat-grinded into it. A battalion of star power helps too. From a 'Warm Body' next to Garfield in Teresa Palmer's loving loyalty, to the family values of 'Six Feet Under's alive talent Rachel Griffiths and a standout Hugo Weaving. As Mr. Smith and 'Captain America's' World War II Red Skull plays a forlorned and forceful father, cut by the bottle and the loss of his best friends to the very same place his sons are going. Drunk off hate and blame that he's drinking alone to. In the barracks 'Point Break's' star Luke Bracey is on point, having a breakout as a seemingly bracing bunk mate. Whereas former man in everything Sam Worthington shows veteran worth and a wealth of experience that may be paying off in just his best role yet, coming after 5 years ago when he was the 15 minutes. But it's the always likable Vince Vaughn who wears the fullest jacket of metal. After going serious in the as underrated as his perplexing but potent performance second season of 'True Detective', the comedy genius of 'The Wedding Crashers' and 'Old School' and all his classic improv inbetween blends humor with heart. Offsetting real seriousness with comic relief. Drilling and nailing a classic sergeant scene insulted with banter. But through it all. From Gibson's grenade in the hole directing, to Garfield's body over that fire dedication the real hero worthy of honor is Private Doss. He may have never walked a red carpet but a flag will always be raised for this father of selfless heroism. There can be no greater dedication.

See This If You Liked: 'Saving Private Ryan', 'Braveheart', 'Silence'.

Friday, 20 January 2017



Manchester Reunited.

137 Minutes. Starring: Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Lucas Hedges, Matthew Broderick & Kyle Chandler. Director: Kenneth Lonergan.

Go on Casey! Go on! Lets make the case for Affleck being the 'Best Actor' at the Academy Awards of this years Oscars next month. The Golden Globe winner who thanked almost everybody (almost everybody) in his leading man speech last week (including his competition by the 'Fences', Denzel Washington), could even take the tap out of the golden record setting 'La La Land' of Hollywood's on-screen "it" couple Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, who have been two-stepping around the globe since last years Sundance. By the 'Hidden Figures' of 'Moonlight' Casey Affleck will go against them all with 'Manchester By The Sea' behind him. Even big brother Ben (who alongside this movies producer Matt Damon gave his younger sibling his first big break in 'Good Will Hunting'. Before giving him an even bigger one as the lead in his directorial debut 'Gone Baby Gone') who this week is also Boston bound producing, writing, directing and starring in 'Live By Night' that takes La La Hollywoodland back to the time the American dream came with a guy named Tommy and a wink and a wry, sly smile. Since the aforementioned 'Gone' that he was so good in, Affleck junior has gone on his own so good too. He's come a long way from using his brothers baseball mitt for more than catching balls in 'Good Will'. From the shimmering noir of 'The Killer Inside Me', to the western woes of Brad Pitt in 'The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford'. Anything but cowardly, the shy voiced Casey has been a best actor before the Academy was taken to school, especially in films like the sinfully underrated 'Aint Them Bodies Saints'. Aint that the truth. Around this week last year he even went in competition with himself with the remarkably fine 'The Finest Hours' and the Hollywood role call emergency 'Triple 9'. But now it's clear this leading man is perfectly fine on his own, will Oscar answer the call?

Or is he in fact ok in his stoic solidarity? Because in this touching, tortured tale of a man in turmoil, Casey cases this isolation with an immersion that is inspired. Bereaved and brooding over his dearly departed brother and the life he lost before that death, Affleck's janitor character has a lot more to fix than leaky faucets and desperately bored housewives as his older siblings last will and testament leaves him with his only child and all the problems that come with that. Whether they be from teenager or legal guardian. And in this subtle but serious drama of raw sincerity, Affleck amazes in this indie flick that's going to set a spark under the commercial gold of February's Academy. His characters shy anxiety is as unrevealingly frustrating as his irritable likability. But beneath these layers and veneers is more than a few characteristics of a damn good man regardless whether his town or their tweeting timelines know or tell you so. It's a raw but refreshing, real world scope on life, love and the loss of both those things and Casey's characterizations evoke emotions like this both explicit and implied. He throws as many punches as he pulls. This is a Boston bar passed from the man who opened 'Good Will Hunting' by tracking down his old schoolyard bully on a basketball playground to level the playing field with a haymaker. And soon the great Matt Damon and his best friend will be joined by another Boston boy with that blue collar acting that is champion like the Beantown's Celtics (who of course play in the background here on the tube in the form of new Larry Bird legacy maker Isiah Thomas). In a new, social modern world where millennials are now nostalgists and hearts have gone from being worn on sleeves to phone screens the acting here lead by our leading man is as restrained as it is revolutionary. Like the simple but sublime cinematography this lets the face of things do the talking, speaking volumes eardum decible louder than the genuine life conversations and interactions that influence this film as straight forward but Springsteen strong as it's New England setting.

Because 'Manchester By The Sea' is especially beautiful and perfect this time of year. You see the sublime suburbs scenes that transition through this. But what about the occupants in the house of 'Gangs Of New York' writer Kenneth Lonergan who directs with defining distinction? Former 'Dawsons Creek' graduate turned one of the most underrated independent actresses around, 'Brokeback Mountain' and our 'Blue Valentine's' Michelle Williams was so haunting in Leonardo DiCaprio's desperate, child loss trauma on Boston's 'Shutter Island' and here she may be pushing around a stroller but she's nursing a mothers pain that even a loyal, heartfelt husband can't heal. Despite her brave face (one that looks like it's also in Affleck's (Ben's) 'Live By Night' right now...it's actually a similiar, cropped bob Sienna Miller) but crippled character, Williams is the master in setting the tone in just a spare few scenes. Meanwhile local hero of 'Friday Night Lights' Kyle Chandler's character may be dead here, but in a series of stirring and personable flashbacks that hound Affleck's mind with bittersweet memory he adds another real role to his classic 'Carol', 'Argo', 'Zero Dark Thirty', 'The Wolf Of Wall Street' and 'Super 8' call backs. Even Matthew Broderick shows up for a cameo showing that he wont take a day off even if school is out for Ferris Bueller forever. It's young graduating star of the future Lucas Hedges however who steals the show as the boy who is the life of this picture. Issues? The kid has two girlfriends for Christs sake. One who kind of looks like a young Lana Del Rey or that kid from 'Moonrise Kingdom' grown up. The other in a band with him that sounds like every other would be band out there...and they're blaming their Ringo. Oh and he's just lost his father and now the buck stops with the man that's his uncle. Hedges is such a good bet. He's so todays teen literal, yet also nuanced like an experienced veteran. We know one day he'll have a career like Casey's. He may even catch a nomination now. But as for who will win, despite a mid-plot reveal scene that will leave no doubt in as many as it devestates we just don't know. We're sitting on the fence until we see how's Denzel's acting/directing double swing. But this could be the Affleck's Academy of sibling rivalry record setting with Casey's catch by the sea. So long as when they tap their glasses with forks he doesn't forget his big brother. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

See This If You Liked: 'Gone Baby Gone', 'Moonlight', 'Good Will Hunting'.

Monday, 16 January 2017



The Old Town.

126 Minutes. Starring: Ben Affleck, Elle Fanning, Sienna Miller, Zoe Saldana, Chris Messina, Chris Cooper, Clark Gregg, Miguel & Brendan Gleeson. Director: Ben Affleck.

Dark nights have haunted actor/director Ben Affleck of late. Whether in the form of the cowl of Gotham's knight or the scowl of critics ink. After the 'Argo', 'The Town' and 'Gone Baby Gone' triple-threat, Academy Award winning director passed up on the chance to direct the 'Man Of Steel' reboot, the man who once played George Reeves' 'Superman' in 'Hollywoodland' was knighted as Bruce Wayne for the 'Dawn Of Justice' of 'Batman v Superman' last year. But in the 'Civil War' era of everyone marvelling over the red, white and blue, all america hero vs the billionaire playboy suit of Captain America vs Iron Man, fanboys and girls pulled no punches in their weigh ins on 'BvS'. Yet despite the hate the prelude to this years 'Justice League' assemble was actually great. And despite his hero being treated like his 'Daredevil' disaster, Batfleck nailed the brooding and bulging Wayne and Dark Knight dynamic like a Keaton or Bale. Now we can't wait for 'The Batman'. His own directed and acted solo movie. But between script perfectionism and studio problems we don't know when we'll see a Dark Knight again. Especially when Ben is busy acting, directing, writing and even producing 'Live By Night' right through from dusk till dawn. As the hardest hustler in Hollywood like those 'Public Enemies' and 'Lawless' folk profits off the prohibition era for big suits and even taller Dick Tracy peaks.

Behind executive decision production power from 'The Revenant' Oscar winning 'Best Actor' Leonardo DiCaprio (who starred in the adaptation of LeHane's sensational 'Shutter Island'), Ben goes for gold all whilst blazing through legendary author of 'Mystic River', 'The Drop' and Affleck's previous adaptation 'Gone Baby Gone' Dennis LeHane's brilliant book at a blazing Tommy-Gun rat-at-tat pace. This week going to battle with his own brother who he starred in 'Gone', as Casey Affleck looks to take 'Manchester By The Sea' all the way to the Kodak Theatre on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame this February. But hometown boy Ben's Boston by the booze looks to have its toast too as he slices the top off a champagne bottle. Cheers! Raise them up for the amazing Affleck. Who raises the roof and his own bar applying himself more than anybody here. 'The Accountant' actioneer that banks on doing it all even offers his two cents to the problems of the past that still remain prevelant and presidential today, not passively, but damn sure aggressively. Articulating his applied script to some accented acting, the man who is as much a LeHane friend and fanboy as he is to fellow New England God Tom Brady, gives us a powerful, production with the Dennis and DiCaprio powerhouse. And one of the Academys leading directors keeps that dynamic with all his parlour tricks and subtle but serious, Clint Eastwood megastar to camera man like directing. So much so that scenes with Clint's son, new hot thing in Hollywood; Scott Eastwood (who was set to play Ben's on-screen Casey as an up and coming movie writer) were left on the cutting room floor. Because in this game sometimes someones got to go. And as Affleck unloads and offs them all at the end of this epic we are reminded whether old 'Town' or new, ever since the 'Heat' of Michael Mann no one does gunfights (or for that matter wagon chases 'till the wheels fall off) quite like this dog having his day.

Still there's plenty of players in this survival of the fittest, signs of the roaring twenties times, where behind ever Gatsby like party there were some real rum characters. At the soul of this picture Affleck's regular Joe's heart is strung between two femme fatales. A sizzling Sienna Miller of 'Burnt', 'American Sniper', Bradley Cooper doubles and 'High Rise' recent levels of forms is brilliant as a Boston broad with as much balche as art deco party and pearl bravado. Whilst 'Avatar', 'Guardians Of The Galaxy' and 'Star Trek' sci-fi queen Zoe Saldana is sensational as a Cuban beauty that shows she belongs in a bygone 'La La Land' era of Hollywoodland starlets. Just like the side of Dakota there's enough room here for another as 'Neon Demon' shining star Elle Fanning is fantastic as a strung out actress turned powerful preacher, in a town and trade that can't seem to get off the bottle or table without some good words from the vein of truth. 'The Town' locked down dad of Affleck; Chris Cooper plays her pops and the local sherriff that is happy to let Ben go by and by unless things get real personal. Cooper hasn't been this significant in such spare change time since he was an 'American Beauty'. Makes you think about the potential power of his Norman Osborner character if he didn't just end up as a frozen head on the shelf in the freezer of the done 'The Amazing Spider-Man' series. One good Chris from Affleck's academy of films deserves another as Chris Messina from 'Argo' almost unrecognisably steals the show as the gangster messiah of this peace that is saved by his lack of grace. But he's more than the trigger right hand man here. He's the ammunition that makes this one shoot straight for the blockbuster bullseye as he tells everyone but Affleck to do the same as that cult catchpharse from the last movie. Except for Eastwood (sorry Scott your tine is coming and we can't wait to see the scenes) everyone gets their cut. Even a bespectacled and trimmed 'Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.' director Clark Gregg and an impressively inspired rhythm and blues singer Miguel. But it's the whiskey business of Irish cop father Brendan Gleeson that really brings everything to the boil. All men are a reflection of their fathers and if Affleck's big picture mirrors its maker then it's 'In Bruges' great Gleenson's scuffed shine that polishes the proceedings albeit with a little tobacco spit. All in all this epic ensemble makes 'Live By Night' see the fight of a new day. But in this live and die American dream it's one man that pays the highest price. And when it comes to on-screen or behind it you can always count of Ben's production no matter what they write. Now let's live to see a dark knight. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

See This If You Liked: 'The Town', 'Public Enemies', 'Gangster Squad'.

Saturday, 14 January 2017



Crazy, Stupid Waltz.

128 Minutes. Starring: Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling, John Legend & J.K. Simmons. Director: Damien Chazelle.

'One. Two. Three'. 'One. Two. Three'. It's time to practice your steps whilst singing in the January rain as everyone is going gaga for 'La La Land' like the lady that sang "rah, rah, ah-ah-ah". But there's no 'Bad Romance' in this modern musical, not even a symbol to the head from whipsmart 'Whiplash' director Damien Chazelle (although J.K. Simmons is back in cameo to can you if he deems you inadequate for this song sheet). This to the notebook however reunites the 'Crazy, Stupid Love' of leading lights Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone who were last seen donning fedoras and tomato dresses for the tommy-gun blunderbuss of the Los Angeles crimes' 'Gangster Squad'. Now this really is their big third act as they swap bullets and blood for times signatures and tap, playing Fred and Ginger for a mainstream millennial crowd that still can't get over 'Dirty Dancing'. Now shall we dance? As because like when it was "weeded out" to end an absolutely awful 2016, or when it was painted pink back in the free love days, with this years best picture for sure Gosling and Stone throw the 'Land' back up to the Hollywood sign. Taking this true motion picture back to the golden era of Astaire, much like the Academy sweeping 'The Artist' did in black and white, tapping in silent pictures. And this Hollywoodland homage looks to step in the name of love all the way to Oscar. Heavy on the plural as this movie waltzes in perfect time with the true love of original film reels and a romance as perfect as a Parisian mid-night hour. Beaming like Californian sun at dawn you'll be twirling and skipping away from the auditorium after this one, humming 'La, La, La, La' for movie infamy.

It's all tens from Tim. Magnificent. Mesmerizing. Exceptional. Envigorating. All the newsreel review exclamations in bright lights above this movie masterpieces classic poster that we truly concur with really can't begin to do this silver screen dream justice from dictionary to thesaurus. But we can all only try for a film as Los Angeles to the times as purple and gold or a cadillac convertible drive on Mullholland. This 'La' is a love song to L.A. with deep, have and to hold devotion. With it's grand gridlocked Los Angeles highway dance set-pieces, to it's outstanding Griffith Observatory numbers where you can really see old Hollywood from, this is the grandest spectacle. And Chazelle's showmanship captures it all with his decades gone gorgeous cinematography, all the way down to some hallmark screen transitions that even George Lucas would be proud of. And as for the rug cutting...boy does it tie this jazz piece together, moving poetically behind the notes and front and center facing the eloquent screenplay in sync. And speaking of all things eclectic. 'All Of Me', Oscar winning singer John Legend shows us all his glory and all he's got as he furthers his last stage name by showing us how versatile he is in playing ordinary people too. Piano perfect, here the nice guy shows us the arrogant side of mainstream music that ignorantly thinks pushing the envelope has nothing to do with writing a love letter to the past. Good job his real music is nothing like that. Drumroll please for another Oscar winner too as 2015 'Best Actor' J. K. Simmons reunites with his 'Whiplash' director once again to crack the horrible bosses shtick one more time. Play it again Simmons. Play it again!

All the way to our two dancing stars fox trotting under lamplight. Now if you thought Ryan Gosling peaked when he declared his love for Rachel McAdams under the rain just wait until he sings in it. A leading man hasn't tapped this lively since Channing Tatum's sailor jerry rose the bar and stole the show for 'Hail Caesar'. So hey girl you may know this star of great 'Drive' for 'The Notebook' and 'Blue Valentine', but how about 'Half Nelson' and 'The Place Beyond The Pines' too? But this as a matter of fact may be the leading mans greatest run along the Walk of Fame yet. Starting with his 'Big Short' Michael Lewis financial gamble this time last year that saw him at the table longer than the likes of Christian Bale and Brad Pitt, this guys now going for DiCaprio's chips. Then his 'Nice Guys' original Hollywood to Mullholland throwback that saw him partner Russell Crowe as a (bad) boy gone funny. And now he's about to stand alongside the legend of Harrison Ford for 'Blade Runner 2049' for quite the 365 plus days in 2017. But nothing comes as cheek-to-cheek as this. As once, twice, three times a chemistry cosying up to Stone again, Gosling spreads his wings like a swan and shows incredible range to his classic charisma and wry smile concealed charm. And Emma Stone's no ugly duckling either. As a matter of fact this beauty is the belle of the ball. As the star of 'The Help' (not to forget 'Superbad', 'Zombieland' and the now webbed up 'Amazing Spider-Man' series with Andrew Garfield) is what you must hand it to here. Her 'Cabaret' experience just north of Broadway and 'Chicago' shows she knows the song and dance and she moved to the academy's constant drumbeat, one-shot jazz with avian superhero Michael Keaton's 'Birdman'. But now as this starlet throwback really sings like one of Hollywoodlands bygone best there's no virture now for todays expected ignorance. This young woman leads this perfect picture as a waitress in waiting for her 'Pretty Woman' karmic moment. And this amazing actor won't just wear the best dress at this February's Academy, she'll be giving the Oscar to next years greatest leading man too. You see if the weight of this power and exclamated performance of puncuation isn't worth gold, then who knows what it is. Because as the clapperboard goes down we hear no louder action than what Stone cuts here. Now give them a hand and lets hear it for these two as they bow to a standing ovation with roses thrown. Two who can do way more than just hold a note for this divine duet of spellblinding stardust. This darling is what makes 'La La Land', Los Angeles and Hollywood what is used to and should still be. So long as from the next step forward they make them like this. Tell all other Jacks they can hit the road to come back no more, no more. Because after this last year we need one anew. And oh what a wonderful feeling. We're happy again. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

See This If You Liked: 'The Artist', 'Crazy, Stupid Love', 'Shall We Dance'.

Thursday, 5 January 2017



Lost In Temptation.

161 Minutes. Starring: Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, Tadanobu Asano, Shinya Tsukamoto, Yosuke Kobozuka, Issy Ogata, Ciaran Hinds & Liam Neeson. Director: Martin Scorsese.

Shh! Do you hear that? Sometimes believing doesn't always have to be seeing. Sometimes the sound of 'Silence' speaks louder. And after finally screaming "Action" on his spiritually gruelling and enlightening epic after 'The Last Temptation' of the 80's, God like 'Goodfellas' director Martin Scorsese gives us his word on the good book based on the novel of the same name by Tokyo writer Shusaku Endo. And after Scorsese spent almost three decades trying to get 'Silence' in cinemas like those people with the balls to report someone on their phones to ushers, we can give him around three hours of our time. Especially when Marty gives us a film as big and bold as his 'Taxi Driver', 'Casino', 'The Departed', 'The Aviator' and 'Gangs Of New York' best. Taking us back to the 17th century when the good lord was far from big in Japan, all whilst taking Liam Neeson to the Far East and back to his Oscar worthy roots of 'Schindlers List' and 'Michael Collins' biopics. As listen to me very carefully, this time he is the one that needs to be rescued. And it's going to take Kylo-Ren and Spider-Man to do it. As Scorsese unloads scores of young acting talent like we've never seen them before. Literally giving us the bones of 'Midnight Special' and 'Star Wars' star Adam Driver, taxing shotgun alongside fellow Jesuit priest Andrew Garfield's Jesus like hair and beard. Growing into not only an Oscar contender going up against himself (see his real concientious objector still going to real life war in 'Hacksaw Ridge'), but Scorsese's potential latest, multiple actor collaborator after bringing the bull and wolf out of De Niro and DiCaprio repectively after taking them to 'Shutter Island' and the 'Mean Streets'. Not bad for a kid who was shown the locker as Peter Parker. I guess losing the role as Marvel's most popular web-slinger doesn't bite...unless you're Tobey Maguire. This career turn isn't really redemption...but it's sure a reclamation project akin to it.

Atheist or God fearer you'll believe in this big picture come its final amen. And that's in part thanks to Martin, Andrew, Adam and Liam. The heaven sent cast bring light to this picture even facing the heart of darkness with only a cross to bear. Now the only thing shining brighter might be the gold of Oscars Academy as this looks to take the gleam off 'Moonlight', 'Manchester By The Sea', 'Fences' and Hollywoodlands 'La La Land' come the February stars flasbulbing at Kodak, director, actor and maybe even picture. The cinematography. The vision. The spirit of these soulful performances. They are all the makings of a timeless classic steeped in tradition and stepping forward in a legacy of the same legend. Forget catching a Spider, Andrew Garfield has the Holy Ghost in him as he kneels down before us and bares his soul in a heartbreakingly good performance as powerful as the film he's in. Confirming himself as a powerhouse actor post-30, he doubles-up (no wonder he co-interviewed fellow award 'Arrival', 'Nocturnal Animal' double-threat Amy Adams for Variety this fall) with this and the conscience of his fellow emotional warfare film 'Heartbreak Ridge', that shows the inner and outer turmoil between countries and culture and one mans relentless, unflinching heart to stick to his belief no matter what bayonet or samurai is put between his eyes. Eyes that only see God. Like Adam Driver who always looks to finish what he started. A man on a mission so clear it's as present as his starved skin, hanging off an all fleshed out performance that is more than a supporting role, but one that you would literally give it all for. Excruciatingly exceeding every expectation of the driven talent of a man we finally get to see behind that Sith mask. With a belief rooted firmly in these two priests, even those wading in the wages of sin could be delivered from evil.

Never to be whitewashed like they claim 'The Great Wall' of Matt Damon playing a Keanu Reeves '47 Ronin' will be, here the Asian actors stand out as much as Hollywood's biggest and best. 'Thor' warrior Tadanobu Asano is the most recognisable and complex, going through more critical and cruel change than any character you pinned or lost hope on. Even more than Yosuke Kobozuka's character, a man sinning to unforgivness, far from Judas but one who would step on Jesus repeatedly to save his own wretched skin. The real villain of sorts here is the somewhat inspired Issy Ogata, with the unmistakable tone of voice of someone who could only bring tried and tested trouble. Not everyone is painted with the same brush here however as 'Shin Godzilla' actor Shinya Tsukamoto is the real inspiration here and scene stealer. Taking our every empathy too as his emotive character brings more than sympathy but the spirit to survive and the soul to thrive under the guidance of what you consider testament. Praise him and his name. Character actor Ciaran Hinds who was oh so good and oh so definitly different in Miles Teller's 'Bleed For This' boxing bout plays a high priest here with wary wisdom and sage sacraments. But it's Liam Neeson's tortured priest and the nuanced expression of apprehensive anguish and aggravation behind the peace under duress he's preaching that really is the silence that speaks louder action than any words on his screenplay. The middle-aged Friday evening actioneer is returning to the roles and acting that made his name so hallowed. And it's all thanks to the power and glory of Scorsese, who in holding up a mirror to wars of religion still prevelant today and our own reflective beliefs (no matter how privately illuminated or put upon in the shadows of public eyes), leaves us asking not only questions of ourselves and others, but our place in this world and the great beyond and in turn all of thats place in us, body and soul. Answering the call in the name of the father, 'Silence' may be Scorsese's loudest exclamation yet in all of humanities beauty and brutality. And right now in a trumped, oppressed world devoid of God or even good we all need a bit of 'Silence'. Take a moment. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

See This If You Liked: 'The Last Temptation Of Christ', 'Hacksaw Ridge', 'Unbroken'.