Sunday, 31 January 2016


Starring Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance, Amy Ryan and Alan Alda. Written by Matt Charman, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen. Directed by Steven Spielberg. Budget  $40 million.  Running time: 141 mintues.

When a Russian spy is caught by the CIA Tom Hanks is appointed his lawyer in his trial for treason. Then when he's secured a life sentence rather than execution, Hanks finds himself shipped off to Berlin to facilitate the exchange of the Russian Spy for a shot down US spy plane pilot.

This came out in 2015, but only caught up with it this year. My bad. A wonderful film that gripped and captivated despite not having a single car chase, shoot out and fight. It was brilliantly directed by Spielberg and Tom Hands was da bomb! If you haven't seen this you must, it's fascinating. The time flew by and the whole thing was fantastically thrilling and engrossing. Well worth a punt!



Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhanall Gleeson and Will Poulter.

Written by Mark L. Smith and Alejandro G. Iñárritu. Directed byAlejandro G. Iñárritu

Budget $ 135 million and with a running time of 156 minutes.

It's the olden times, when America was just one gigantic frontier, the guns were all flintlocks and the natives were furious. We join Leo, his half-breed son and a band of gnarly, bearded frontiersmen headed up by Tom Hardy and led by Domhanall Gleeson as they go pelt hunting. Then the native Americans attack, slaughter everyone they can and Leo and a band of survivors barely escape down river with the Indians, who are searching for the chief's kidnapped daughter, hot on their heels.

And then just because things aren't difficult enough, Leo gets his pretty boy looks messed up real good in a fight with a large grizzly bear and gets severely shredded as a result. And put under the care of Tom Hardy who leaves him for dead in a shallow grave. Leo then spends the next hour crawling on his belly, drooling and screaming as he begins his quest for revenge.

After that it's just one long, beautiful-looking journey of relentless bleakness as Leo gets better and goes looking to square the pitch with Tom Hardy.

Anyway, it's long, beautiful and bloody bleak. Leo acts his little cotton socks off but I think Tom Hardy is better. Alejandro produces another astonishingly good looking and brilliantly directed movies which I doubt I'll ever sit down to watch again. It's gripping but becomes actually exhausting to watch and joins a pile of similar films which arrive at the same time each year all featuring its lead character being physically  and mentally tortured and abused as it's main plot device all in an attempt to win an Oscar.

Definitely not a date or feel good movie.



Starring Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad and Anthony Bellew. Written by Ryan Coogler and Aaron Covington. Directed by Ryan Coogler.

Budget $35 million. Running Time:133 minutes

This is the 7th film in the Rocky series and comes 39 years after the original film. Following the adventures of Apollo Creed's son, this is the riches to rags story of a young man trying to climb out from under the shadow of his dead father and make a name for himself.

Michael B. Jordan is a fantastic actor and he works extremely hard to make this work and it's a delight to say he succeeds. This is a typical sports movie that has all the tropes you'd expect and sadly that's what ultimately costs the film a 9/10 score. The film so closely adheres itself to the classic Hollywood three-act structure that when the third act thunks down with such a 'thud' that you actually jump out of your seat, it's so bloody obvious that you groan – 'oh god' as our hero is left with everything going wrong and having to fight to get it all back, but will he refind his mojo before the final fight? Will he win back his girl? Will he repair his relationship with his mentor?' Well, it won't take a rocket scientist to work out those answers.

What's great about this film is Stallone and Jordan, they have a great and easy chemistry and Stallone is great as Rocky, he brings him to life with such ease you begin to think that Stallone isn't acting, but it's clear he must be.

Sadly what isn't as convincing or enjoyable is the actual fights which feel a tad claustrophobic and uninspiring, unlike the other Rockys. And sadly there's never any fear that Creed's main opponent or the outcome of the fight is ever in doubt.

This one goes to the wire, but the journey is highly enjoyable even if, by the final bell it loses some of its momentum and fun.



Starring Jack Black, Dylan Minnette, Odeya Rush, Amy Ryan, Ryan Lee and Jillian Bell. Written by Darren Lemke. Directed by Rob Letterman. Running time 103 minutes. Budget $58 million.

A Kids horror film and all that that threatens. The story sees Dylan Minnette and his mum, Amy Ryan arrive in a new town to start a new life after the death of Dylan's father. They move in next door to grumpy writer R.L Stine and his insanely sexy daughter, Odeya Rush. Then there's the usual misunderstanding that only happens in these sorts of movies and the monsters of Stine's kids horror stories are unleashed on the world and it's up to the kids to save the day. Cue lots of running about, shouting loudly, CGI, thrills, spills and excitement until everything's resolved and the credits roll and everythings happy again.

To coin a phrase, I'm getting too old for this shit. I really am, I sat through this pretty bored, I went with the lad who thought it was okay, I thought it pretty shit and I was reminded several times that the stories offered nothing new, especially in monster form. Anyway, the effects were fun.

Got nothing more to add, kids of a certain age will probably love it, parents will probably feel nonpluxed either way. I groaned through it. Particularly with the woeful cameo by the real R.L Stine playing the new drama teacher, Mr. Black. (geddit!?)



Starring Mark Ruffalo, Michael eaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiver, John Slattery and Stanley Tucci. Written by Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer. Directed by Tom McCarthy. Running time 129 minutes.  Budget $20 million.

Not a light-hearted biopic of the creation of the London based actors casting agency that I was lead to believe, but a serious and extremely shocking retelling of the Boston Globe's investigation into the despicable activities of a number of Catholic priests who were also pedophiles, which in the end exposed 249 of the disgusting sacks of shit. The cover up by the Catholic Church and the authorities and the lengths they went to to keep the truth secret is both shocking, and deeply offensive, particularly in light of the fact the abuse was known about to have been going on since the early 1960s.

This is a fantastically well written and acted film, with all the ensemble cast deserving much kudos for their work. The direction is work-man-like but the writing is excellent.

I found this a powerful and important film which deserves to be seen.



Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Bruce Dern, Michael Madison, Tim Roth,Walton Goggins and Demián Bichir

Written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. Budget $44 million. Running time:167 minutes long (without intermission and 187 minutes with overture and intermission).

In the words of Lawrence Oates. "I'm just going outside, down to the cinema to watch Hateful Eight. I maybe some time."

And he wasn't joking, this is Tarantino's eighth film and his longest one to date, it's also his most talky, gorey and violence to boot!

Set several years after the American Civil War, the plot for Hateful Eight is simplicity its self. A terrible three-day blizzard forces bounty hunters and friends, John Ruth (Kurt Russell),
Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) and newly appointed sherrif (Walton Goggins) to seek shelter in a trading post in the middle of nowhere. John Ruth aka The Hangman is transporting his prisoner Daisy Domergue back to town to be hung for various crimes.

At the trading post the three men find four more men holding up to wait out the snow. But not everyone is who they say they are and by the end of the night the snow will run red with blood...

But before we get there we have a lot to listen to, because this is a Tarantino film and he's got a lot to say, a hell of a lot to say. That's not necessarily a bad thing when you write as well as he does, but he's certainly trying everyone's patience with this one and I couldn't help thinking if he'd cut half an hour out of it, you wouldn't have noticed. The first hour is the slow build up as our first four characters get to know one another and bicker and talk. The second hour see the introduction of four new friends who have stuff to say before the final act can arrives in a balls-out gun-battle with so much gore and blood that you're sure to feel as if you need to clean your eyeballs in case some of the gore got stuck.

This isn't vintage Tarantino, it's flabby, ridiculously gory and staggeringly violent, particularly towards women who all suffer very badly in this film. And then there's the use of the 'N' word which gets used so often that it starts to jar and pulls you out of the film every time it's uttered.

On the plus side, it's funny, intense, shot in 70mm and looking staggering gorgeous, this is a hard film to watch, but I kinda dug it, I just don't know if I'd rush to see it again.


Sunday, 3 January 2016

#1 JOY

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De niro, Edgar Ramirez, Diane Ladd, Virginia Madsen, Isabella Rossellini and Bradley Cooper. Written and directed by David O. Russell. Budget $60 million, running time 124 minutes.

Hey do want to hear the true story of the Miracle Mop? If this is your long cherished dream then guess what, you're in for a real treat! Cos David O. Russell has only gone and made the first in what is sure to be a brand new genre – the bio-pics of house hold cleaning utensils. Already he's prepping his next movie, the true life story of how the scouring pad got made and I've heard Speilberg is making the bio pic of the dust pan and brush, which is going to be a warts and all expose, that's going to blown the ruddy lid off the whole corrupt edifice.

In the mean time we have this. Joy, a slow, boring trudge through the slow boring life of the inventor of the miracle mop. With a cast to kill for, David O. Russell has turned the life of Joy Mangano, the inventor of the Miracle Mop, into a dull, staggering dull, boring trawl through the edited low-lights of her life, altering facts where necessary to better serve the demands of a modern cinema audience – hence the surprising gun battle shoot out in the bank in the first act or the alien abduction sequence where it is revealed that Joy is in actuality the re-incarnation of the Queen of the Galaxy and she's hiding on Earth while her son, played by Eddie Rednappy tries to kill her so he can harvest the human race to turn them into an mortality drug. Along the way, she has to deal with a household that includes her father and ex-husband living in the basement, his mother living in the front room, her grandmother who lives in the dining room and her two or three children, who seem to live upstairs. Luckily, Joy's step sister hates her, her father's new girl friend mistrusts her and everyone she meets seems to be trying to steal her ideas, crush her dreams or just humiliate her, particularly if they are a man, because all men in this film except one is a blood-sucking, dream-crushing tyrant, or corrupt buisness men, all except Bradley Cooper who once again fails to make me hate him like I used to.

Through it all Joy, played by Jennifer Lawrence fights and fights, overcoming all obstacles, no matter how dull or boring, or repetitive they might be. The film sort of putt-putts along in first gear until the exciting, dramatic final act, when Joy's Miracle Mop is kidnapped by bad men and Joy is forced to go on a do-or-die mission to rescue it, before her scheming family have her declared bankrupt.

So Joy, changes out of her tartan shirt and suits up in a nice black leather jacket and short hair and goes on the rampage. Using her shape-changing mutant powers, Joy breaks into the evil factory where her miracle Mop is being held and rescues it, leading to a nail-biting showdown with the big bad villain, dressed in a cowboy hat.

Then the film shows us Joy's happy ending and the whole thing sort of stops, like a car rolling slowly along until it bumps, gently, to a halt against a curb.

A joyless, very dull, but well acted dirge of bland tedium but at least the sound track is good. Plus it's still great to see De Niro actually acting again.