Reacher is back
Sequel to the 2012 original directed by Christopher McQuarrie, 'Jack Reacher: Never go back' sees Tom Cruise return as the lethal drifter.
The sequel sees Reacher return to face a government wrapped up in a massive global conspiracy, but his journey is made all the more difficult when a secret from his past comes back to change his life forever.
The original was a smart tense thriller with some clever fight and action sequences. This feels like a much more confident franchise offering with the action ramped up to a new level, but this does hinder the story here with some of the plot feeling slow and often predictable.
Cobie Smulders replaces Rosamund Pike as the female opposition here and it in some ways feels like a step back. Smulders is a very strong actress and does see some action here but her story arc feels a little deflated and under used.
McQuarrie has been replaced in the directors seat by Edward Zwick (reuniting with Cruise for the first time since 'The Last Samarai'). Zwick is a very good director but feels almost out of his depth here as his previous films have always maintained strong story arcs, something which lacks here.
As for Cruise, he does what he do enjoys most fight, jumps and runs his way through the film.
A disturbing tale that you will watch through your fingers
The tag "based on a true story" more often than not hinders a story and can affect the way we watch films. Standing out in both a good and bad way in the film is Emmerdale star Danny Miller, who gives an accomplished, understated performance but still you cant escape the fact that he is still a TV actor which is a very different thing from film acting. That is not a downplay on his performance though just an observation.
With a very disturbing subject matter the script is smartly laid out, setting a very easy going pace and with minimal dialogue which often hinders a stories pace in smaller films.
Central to this film though is Richard Pawulski as the central character Danny, a young autism sufferer. The story revolves around Danny on a solo camping trip, but his trip is disturbed by a group of teens lead by Miller as Nicholas. While Nicholas is somewhat embarassed by his now ex girlfriend is given word that she may have once slept with Danny, this sends Nicholas onto a violent path of anger.
Remembering the film is based on a true story, there are often very disturbing scenes that will have you emotional.
Cinema to remember
Films to watch before you die
Monsters is one of those films that slipped by almost unnoticed. A smartly crafted sci fi tale that is a must see for any aspiring filmmakers.
Directed by Gareth Edwards (Godzilla (2014), Rogue One:A Star Wars story) starring Scoot Mcnairy and Whitney Able it is a masterclass in making a film on a shoestring budget.
Burton at his best
Based on the novel by Ransom Riggs 'Mrs Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children' is a novel that was pratically begging for a Tim Burton film adaption.
Burton's gothic visuals mixed with his very stripped back and often personal way of story telling lend themselves well to the fairytale like story. Alot of paralels could be made to Burtons 2003 offering 'Big Fish'.
Eva Green is perfect as the Mrs Peregrine mentioned in the title, an actress who is often undrrated and does not get the credit she deserves. Asa Butterfield continues his strong run of films as the central character Jake who is whisked into a mysterious world of monsters and magic. Throughout the film we are introduced to various characters who posses some often mesmerizing 'peculiarities'.
One of the biggest strengths of this film though is the locations as Burton pulls you into a world which is both enchanting and at the same time creepy.
While I admit I have never been a huge Burton fan (Ed Wood for me his best) this for me had an appeal that could not be denied.
Blum is the master producer behind hit like the Paranormal Activity and The Purge franchises and has spearheaded a number of low budget films to box office success.
His most recent offerings 'Get Out' and 'Split' were both commercial and critical hits.
He flys the flag for low budget creative stories.
DC extended universe needs to take more risks
With 4 films now under their belt (Man Of Steel, Batman v Superman, Suicide Squad and Wonder Woman) Warner Bros and there growing slate of DC comic films need to look at taking more risks to be successful.
Patty Jenkins directed Wonder Woman is to date probably the most succesful film so far breaking box office records while also gaingin the adoration of critics, something which hampered the previous three installments. The best thing DC has done so far though has been that fans come first and critics second but there is no doubt that good or bad critical reaction is a important part of film now.
With 'Justice League' up next in November, but again hampered by internet false news and social media bashings. Snyder having to depart the film in post production due to family issues and Joss Whedon stepping in to over see some reshoots. The internet was abound that the reshoots are substantial but again Momoa's short stint back on set suggests otherwise.
Looking forward to the furture DC has a number of mouthwatering prospects with solo films for 'The Batman', The Flash and Joss Whedon's Batgirl. But there are some films on the upcoming slate are hits just needing the right directors. I have always believed Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz, Baby Driver) is the perfect and ideal choice to direct Ezra Miller in 'The Flash'. Aswell as this there is also the follow up to 'Suicide Squad' which has had a number of directors mentioned including Mel Gibson and Guy Ritchie but for me I'd go for Robert Rodriguez (Planet terror, Desperado) this is an addmitted long shot but nothing is impossible. His approach is perfect, with the action set pieces that would be right up his alley.
While 'Justice League' is already on its way there is also the lesser known 'Justice League Dark' fronted by Constantine which has been in development for a number of years which most recently had director Doug Liman walk away from it. This is a project with infinite potential with the right man at the helm. Gueillermo Del Toro was at one point the chosen man but it was again not meant to be. While there are a number of A list directors who would jump at this I'd go straight for Michael Dougherty (Krampus, Trick r Treat). He may not be A list but his next project is 'Godzilla:King of the monsters' and with this his stock will no doubt rise. He does also have comic book experience already as a writer on 'X-Men 2', 'Superman Returns' and 'X-men Apocalypse'.
Then there is Henry Cavill's second solo outing as Superman in 'Man of Steel 2'. This again has had a number of directors mentioned from George Miller to Matthew Vaughn. While I admit I would love to see Miller Superman film I would be more interested to see a story teller behind the camera rather than a straight up filmmaker. Steven Knight, the man behind 'Peaky Blinders' and 'Taboo' would be a perfect choice to give the man of steel more depth and develop the grounded story started by Zack Snyder.
Internet sensation hits the big screen
In 2013 writer director David F.Sandberg unleashed his short film 'Light's Out' onto the internet and it became an overnight viral success.
Simple premise, a woman about to go to bed is haunted by a malevolent being that lives in the darkness. Sandbergs genius is in his use of editing showing the being disappear in light and appear in dark.
Step up 'Saw' creator James Wan who liked what he saw and teamed up with Sandberg for a feature film version of his hit short film. Starring Teresa Palmer, Maria Bello and Billy Burke the film retains its simplistic approach but gives the dark dwelling demon a meaningful back story.
One of the best set pieces in the film is by far its eerie opening which again utilizes Sandbergs now trademark editing sequences. Bello is excellent as the central figure and connection to the evil in the dark which does offer up points which will both suprize and annoy.
Sandberg and Wan will again team up for 'Annabelle: Creation'.
Cruise deserves better
Aside from the controversy surrounding Cruise and his private life, mainly his connections with scientology, no one can deny the man deserves his place with the greats in cinema.
With the recent release of Cruise's latest The Mummy, the start for Universal's Dark Universe franchise, he has come in for alot of negative publicity.
The film has underperformed at the box office clocking up quite a loss financially as well as being hit hard by negative critical reviews. Most haveof the blame has been placed at the feet of Cruise himself.
It has been said Cruise ran the film over director Alex Kurtzman yet it is hard to believe wether this is true or not. On pretty much all of his films Cruise has had a large if not all the input on the stunt side but it is hard to believe that even a star of Cruise's standing can over rule a studio and their final say. Kurtzman and the writers should be held accountable for the stories pacing and lack of structure.
Aside from this the writings of some that Cruise is past his prime and should no longer be the leading man are both disrespectful and lack understanding.
Tom Cruise has been a leading man since the 80's and has time and time again put himself on the line in the name of thrilling audiences. He has aswell proved his acting skills with acclaimed performances in films like Magnolia and Born On The Fourth Of July.
Cruise is an actor who does not look for critical adoration, he simply loves what he does and what he does is entertains. His films might not be the best but it means more to him that the audiences just get the thrills that cinema is meant to offer.
While he feels fit enough to do what he loves I say let him do it .
Will make you look at taxi drivers in a different way
Sometimes you have to look at straight to DVD films to find real original stories.
Two friends with a very mysterious past attend a reunion in Paris, but on their way home the taxi they take becomes the begining of a violent came of cat and mouse. When the pair choose to skip their far, the driver begins persuing them with little or nothing that can stop him.
Jess Liaudin (better known for his stunt work) is terrifying and menacing both phsically and mentally as the derranged driver hot on the heels of the two friends.
Directed by Julien Seri, the film is an intense trip with some suprisingly well conceieved sequences for a low budget film. The night time setting is used perfectly with the parisian backdrop shimmering.
While the film is in some parts predictable it is the final act that makes this unique with a plot twist that will hit you like a brick wall. Smart and intelligent this will pull you in the blow you away with its very different ending.
Wonder Woman standing tall
Like comic book movies or not, Gal Gadot and Patty Jenkins made a film that has something for everyone.
Since her debut in Batman v Superman people have wanted more of Gadot. Enter Patty Jenkins (Monster (2003)), originally slated to direct 'Thor 2', but fate took it away and Marvels loss turned into DC's gain.
This is an expertly directed film with an almost indie feel to it. It is the pacing of the film that is its biggest strength though choosing to evolve the story started in Dawn of Justice as the opening shows Diana being offered a piece of her past which triggers her origin story.
Jenkins is clever in her handling of material that could have quite easily fallen into an over 'cheesey' film.
Gadot is perfect, beautiful, fearless and also innocent and this film will push her straight to the A list. She looks so comfortable now as Wonder Woman and the first time she puts on her full costume will give anyone chills.
The film is beautiful with some incredible set pieces with two for me standing out. First the battlefield scene as she races toward the enemy, it is every bit what you expect and want of a hero. But it is the story of Zeus and Ares, told in animation that is the films key scene as it sets a tone that carries the film.
In Batman v Superman Hans Zimmer handed Wonder Woman one of his best themes he has ever created and it is again prominent throughout the film, and it is developed again by Harry Gregson-Williams into what I believe is the score of 2017.
An insight into a side of the war that will both shock and inspire
John Ford, William Wyler, John Huston, Frank Capra and George Stevens are pioneers of cinema and directors of some of the most iconic films in history yet little is known of their exploits and contributions during the second world war.
Drawn from over 100 hours of archival footage and narrated by Meryl Streep is an inight to the war like we have never seen. Compelling, disturbing and more so informative.
With contributions from Filmmakers Steven Spielberg (who also acts as Executive Producer), Francis Ford Coppola, Lawrence Kasdan, Paul Greengrass and Gueillermo Del Toro who discuss both their admiration of the afformentioned directors aswell as their love for the legacies they have created.
This three part Netflix documentary is a must for anyone who holds an interest in the second world war but this also serves as a homage to five film directors who even to this day serve as some of the best in history.
Snyder steps down from Justice League movie
Hollywood seems to be the magical land where magic is created but sometimes things happen that remind us that even those creating the magic are human beings too.
Zack Snyder's daughter commited suicide in march giving Snyder the ultimate battle of heart and passion which has ended with Snyder and his wife Deborah (a producer on 'Justice League') stepping down from the Dc mega film and Joss Whedon stepping in to finish the project.
It has only just come to light that Snyder originally took just two weeks off originally and went back to work but came to the conclusion his family needed him. You have to respect the man for his commitment under growing pressure from ridiculous critical responses.
Zack Snyder was a man who cared about his characters and tried to pussh new boundaries in storytelling rather than emulate the Marvel formula.
He is a man who created the DCEU and with out him we would not have Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman or Jason Momoa as a new badass Aquaman. I am in hope he will be back for Justice League 2.
Love and respect to the Snyder family.
Thank you Zack for what you have created.
More to life
22nd of May 2017 Manchester Arena, an Arriana Grande concert, a man detonated an improvised explosive device killing himself and growing number of people, kids included and critically injuring many more.
One word: senseless.
using storytelling to give life to fighting real life issues
Storytelling is a powerful and often controversial tool. In the right hands it can help raise awareness of issues and also highlight real world problems.
ITV drama 'Little Boy Blue' told the tragic true life story of the 2007 shooting of Liverpool youngster Rhys Jones and the manhunt for his killer.
'Little Boy Blue' is handled with the care and respect it truly deserves staying away from becoming a one sided bias story it could quite easily have become. Stephen Graham gives easily his best turn since 'This Is England' as the man tasked with hunting down the killer, Detective Superintendant Dave Kelly. Sinead Kennan and Brian F. O'Byrne portray Rhys parents with heart breaking power. The pair carry scenes that in alot of cases are both upsetting, disturbing and even uncomfortable as they struggle to stay together through mounting pressure. Paddy Rowan plays cast as Sean Mercer, the man eventually charged with the murder of Rhys, gives a performance that will have you hating him as his arrogance and cockyness oozes off screen and is a credit to an actor who before this only had one other role.
Vaughn and Zemeckis top the list to direct Ezra Miller in "The Flash"
The DC film universe is a tough world with directors coming and going, continuous internet rumors of behind the scenes troubles aswell as a continuous battle with negative critic reviews.
Ezra Miller's "The Flash" solo outing set for 2018 (one of 2 set for the same year alongside James Wan's "Aquaman") has had troubled times seeing directors coming and going and again rumors of script troubles, but Millers brief appearance in "Justice League" trailer has shown the Flash could be a saving grace for the franchise.
On the director front my personal preference has always been Edgar Wright ("Hot Fuzz"), his already near comic book style mixed with his comedic stylings fit the tone perfectly. But it has really come to light that the studio has other ideas with Matthew Vaughn ("Kick Ass") and Robert Zemeckis ("Back To The Future") topping their wish list.
Vaughn for me is a little too generic and straight laced but Zemeckis is an interesting option.
Is war the final curtain call for the apes?
July 14th will see the third part of the new reinvented apes franchise released on the world.
The second installment to be directed by Matt Reeves (soon to be calling the shots on "The Batman"). Andy Serkis once again returns as Caeser to lead the charge against impending doom. With the final trailer recently released the films tone is set and again pushes the trilogy to have comparisons to Christopher Nolan's "Dark Knight" trilogy.
Started in 2011 with Rupert Wyatts "Rise of the Planet of the apes", its feel of a thriller rather than a sci fi film offered a grounded reality not usually afforded to films like this. When Reeves took over for 2014 sequel "Dawn of the planet of the apes" he brought a more raw emotional edge to the evolving story, but he also advanced the set pieces to new heights. The buzz surrounding the third installment is growing by the day and the addition of the criminlally underrated Woody Harrelson has again upped the stakes and means "War for the planet of the apes" (possibly the final film) is set to be a mind blowing film and possibly emotionally charged.
The Devil is watching
Every so often you see a film that sticks with you, which doesnt happen often in this day and age.
"Hostage to the Devil" is the compelling but disturbing tale of irish priest Malachi Martin, a man whos is looked at as part of the inspiration behind "The Exorcist".
An ex CIA agent in the documentary claims Martin was killed when a possesed infant spoke to him. The documentary traces Martins life with his core work as an exorcist and with contributions from various sources some of which claim he was a spiritual genius. After an exorcism in 1999 Martin was victim to a fall which turned out to be fatal. It was claimed that Martin confided in a friend before he died that he was pushed by an unseen force. There is even an appearance from Lorraine Warren (played by Vera Farmiga in the "Conjuring" series).
From his first encounter with exorcisms while he was writing a book in Egypt the film traces Martins path and sets out questions for the audiences to answer for themselves, is the devil real? Is their an eternal struggle between good and evil?
The film plays at quite a pace but in parts feeling like a feature news coverage rather than a documentary film but this for me creates a stronger effectivness, it keeps the pace of the film to a minimum which allows audiences time to retain the information and what they are seeing.
The most effective point to this film though is its approach as it questions every angle of the disturbing story with some even raising the question that Martin himself could be possesed by a demon himself.
You have to take your hat off to director Marty Stalker for his handling of the masses of information and resources available and streamling a coherent film that doesnt feel too full because alot of documentaries get a little over ammbitious and try throwing too much information at audiences at once.
"Hostage to the Devil" is a diturbing film but will have you gripped start to finish.
Black is back
Shane Black is probably best known for being the creator of the "Lethal Weapon" film franchise but not many realize he is a very accomplished director in his own right.
In 2005 he teamed with Robert Downey Jr and Val Kilmer for his directorial debut with "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang", Black's sharp witty script was perfect for Downey Jr and the film became a critical and commercial hit.
After reteaming with Downey Jr for "Iron Man 3" he returned in 2016 to what he knows best, sharp witted crime comedy. Black is clearly an attractive prospect now attracting Russel Crowe and Ryan Gosling for his 3rd feature "The Nice Guys". Set in 70s L.A the story revolves around two mismatched private detectives searching for a missing girl while also stumbling onto the mysterious death of a porn star.
The film is suprisingly fast paced and is filled with Black's trademark sharp wit and effective old school filmmaking style. Crowe is reliable as ever as the tough as nails Jackson Healey but it is Gosling as Holland March who steals this show with a suprisingly superb comedic performance. Forming a formidable onscreen partnership with Angourie Rice, playing Holly March his daughter. Gosling gives a performance unlike anything he has ever given before proving his flexibility and earmarking him as one of the best actors of his generation.
Both Crowe and Gosling look like they are having the time of their lives here with Black clearly giving them freedom to put their own stamp on the film.
Black is in his element here showing as always he is the go to guy for buddy films and that his comedic instincts are second to none.
On God's Right Hand : #DeathIsComing
cinema to remember
films to watch before you die
considered by some to be the best horror film ever made and by others as the best film ever made either way it goes down as a cinema classic and William Friedkin's masterpiece.
The film is surrounded by mystery, conspiracy and even controversy but to this day it still scares people with it's eerie and somewhat disturbing subject matter. Expertly handled by Friedkin the film is as unnerving as anyfilm has ever been and backed by the tubular bells soundtrack it is unforgettable in both visual and audio form.
Tarzan returns to the big screen
Tarzan is one of those characters that has been remade a number of times and with varying degrees of success.
Director David Yates (Harry Potter and the deathly hallows part 1 = 2) is the man tasked with bringing the character back to the screen for the new era. Casting was a tricky prospect with various names mentioned with the strongest possibility being "Twilight" star Kellan Lutz but Yates ended up going for "True Blood" vampire Stellan Skarsgard. While Skarsgard does not immediatley jump to mind as the right or perfect choice for Tarzan you have to remember that he is an extremely accomplished actor and he does cut an imposing figure himself.Rounding off the ensemble cast are Christoph Waltz, Samuel L Jackson and Margot Robbie.
Yates approach to this was very smart as he waived the traditional approach and began his story with Tarzan already an established character but living a sheltered life away from his jungle origins.
Waltz is outstanding as the unpredictable Leon Rom and Jackson offers both some light comic relief aswell as strong backing as George Washington Williams. Robbie gives a stripped back performance as Jane but in some places the chemistry between her and Skarsgard feels a little forced and it effects the stories pace.
Skarsgard holds the film well and gives a good performance but struggles with a story that doesnt seem to carry a constant pace and flits between fast paced action but struggles with the emotional aspects.
The film is entertaining and some of the action is breathless but it does lack a little of the heart it requires.
cinema to remember
Upon its release seen as a flop but upon its home video release it began to build up the fan base it has today.
Known now as a cinema classic and to some it is Ridley Scott's best film to date. Made a star of Harrison Ford and became the focal point of a number of recuts until Ridley Scott released what he called the definitive cut in 2007. Appreciate this classic film for the beautiful piece of art it is.
The sisters are not as well known as some directors but they have been slowly breaking their way into cult status with their unique horror stories.
Probably bet known for their visceral horror/thriller "Dead hooker in a trunk" but their biggest to date being the katherine Isabelle starring "American Mary". Their powerful and disturbing tales have gained them a number of fans and as their stock begins to rise they are definetley one to watch.
Alien : Covenant
cinema to remember
Blair Witch 2 was a victim of timing and a rushed process
When the "Blair Witch Project" hit cinemas in 1999 it became an instant sensation and a genre defining classic and utilized the now over used found footage format. Directors Eduardo Sanchez and Daniel Myrick became beacons for upcoming filmmakers around the world.
Then in 2000 the inevitable sequel "Blair Witch 2: Book of shadows", Sanchez and Myrick for what ever reasons dropped out of the directors chair and took up executive producer credits. Then acclaimed TV and documentary filmmaker Joe Berlinger, this from day one felt like a rushed move to cash in on the buzz of the first film.
The sequel maintained the originals approach of using the story within a story idea only this time scrapping the found footage approach, although this by all accounts was a smart move, as it avoided comparisons to the original.
The sequels down fall is clear early on with weak special fx hindering the stories approach and tone. While the original film carried a simplistic approach and was more of a psycological film the sequel took a very different route upping the horror factor but keeping the witches influence as a back story. The story is in alot of ways very smart but it sometimes feels a little predictable and you have to wonder if they had maintained the originals pace and approach it may have been a completely different outcome.
There are alot of plus points in this film and it remains a smart idea just poorly executed. I have to wonder what would have been had the studio just held out a little for a more fitting director and even to work out the stories tone a little more.
cinema to remember
Films to watch before you die
Based on the disturbing true story "Zodiac (2007)" is director David Fincher at his best.
Boasting an all star cast including the likes of Robert Downey Jr, Mark Ruffalo and Jake Gyllenhal, the film is a tightly woven intense thriller. It has a script that will keep you on the edge of your seat till the powerful and compelling end.
From "Alien" to "Gladiator", Scott is a man who tells stories through creating worlds.
He is one of few filmmakers who thrives on giving audiences experiences not just entertainment. Best known for films like "Alien" and "Blade Runner" but it was Scotts first collaboration with Russell Crowe in 2000 with the multi award winning "Gladiator" that he will be remembered for where he gave us a roman epic that felt like the cinema of old.
star trek 3 is proof how important picking the right director can be
In 2009 JJ Abrams reinvented the sci-fi classic "Star Trek" for the big screen and for a new generation. The film was met with a very positive critical response and also a healthy box office return. Then in 2013 he returned to the directors chair to helm the sequel "Star Trek :Into Darkness" while the film recieved mixed reviews it did again return a healthy box office taking.
Then for the inevitable third installment, out went JJ from the directors chair (though he retains a producers credit) and his creative team behind the first two installments and in came director Justin Lin and writers Simon Pegg and Doug Jung.
Although accomplished writers the script felt a little muddled to say the least and in a sense a little over comedic, lacking the originality and heart of the previous films.
The films real weakness though was Lins 'balls to the wall' approach. Justin Lin is probably best known for directing four films in the "Fast and Furious" franchise. The sensibilities he crafted through those films are a little too evident here making the film feel like a no brainer action film rather than the sci fi thriller we expect. Even the films marketing felt like 'fast and furious' in space from the rock music backed trailer to the almost trippy posters.
Should there be a 4th the hope is they head for a more stripped back refined director this time.
With a very shaky start in feature films with possibly the weakest film in the franchise with "Alien 3", Fincher found his feet with the brad Pitt starring thriller "Seven".
Since then he has not looked back creating classic after classic and setting out his stall as a master fil maker. His stand out though for me is "The Social Network", a film that turned out to be far more gripping than anticipated.
"On God's Right Hand" short film progressing
As pre production continues keep up to date with visual elements on the visual edge page.
check back here for details on production and possible opportunities aswell as casting.
cinema to remember
Boy Band star takes part in Nolan's "Dunkirk"
When it was announced that Harry Styles had got a part in Christopher Nolans war epic "Dunkirk" it created a very mixed reaction
Christopher Nolan is a very intelligent man and storyteller so the casting of Styles has to be a move for the benefit of the story and not a move for a 'name' as some suggest.
I am a fan of Nolan and I believe Styles is going to be a suprize to alot of people. There was a similar rection to the casting of Robert Pattinson when he won the part in "Twilight" but he has gone on to become one of the best actors around.
Under Nolans guidance who knows how far Styles can actually go.
Before he became the main man for Warner Bros and Dc films with "Man of Steel" and "Justice League" Zack Snyder was best known for his striking visuals.
Begining with his feature debut in 2004 with "Dawn of the Dead", Snyder honed his craft through state of the art visual storytelling growing with the technology. his best to date has to be 2006 graphic novel adaption "300".
Pre Production begins on short horror film "On God's Right Hand"
Pre production has started on my own short film recently, with the script currently on its third draft. You can follow progress on twitter and facebook using the tag @OGRH17.
"Northern England 1946. After three years in hiding, serial killer John Pitman hands himself in to authorities to confess his crimes. Pitman is a man of few words and dark secrets. Plagued by a lingering darkness that haunts his life he is a prisoner to the shadows that surround him.
Investigator William Keane is assigned the task of getting inside Pitmans head and understanding his reasoning. With ramblings of a shadow that speaks to him, Pitman reveals a terrifying story of death, blood and witchcraft.
Pitman seems just a shell of the confident sadistic killer he once was. Something is terrifying him but what?"
For more information or anything else contact: email@example.com
Martin Scorsese is a cinema pioneer
A recent viewing of the 1995 classic "Casino" had me gripped from start to finish. While I have seen the film on a number of occasions, this got me thinking about its director Martin Scorsese.
Here is a man who has created some of the most important films in cinema history, but even with advancing technology and changing audiences Scorsese remains devoted to cinema and its traditional roots. Scorseses most recent offering was the epic "Silence", starring Liam Neeson and Andrew Garfield. While the film recieved mixed reviews and didnt really find its box office audience the film maintained the feeling of an old style hollywood epic, in particular Roland Joffes "The Mission".
Outside of directing Scorsese maintains a strong passion for keeping alive old screen classics, restoring early film reels and keeping alive Hollywoods early years.
Martin Scorsese is a man who loves cinema and is on a mission to remind everyone how powerful, beautiful and educational film can be to people of all ages.
It is people like Martin Scorsese who keeps cinema alive and keeps film progressing even in the rising tide of technology and ever more demanding audiences.
Powerful and compelling Ice Hockey film
From Director X, an acclaimed music video director, comes this small but compelling film.
Stephan James ("Race", "Selma") stars as Mattie Slaughter, a talented Ice Hockey player who is on the brink of breaking into the NHL.
Loosely based on a true story, Slaughters story takes place during rising racial tensions in Nova Scotia, leaving Slaughter battling on all fronts.
An incredibly smart film that has slipped in under the radar but deserves to be watched. Fans of Ice Hockey will appreciate that the UK audiences dont often take to films of the sport but this film is much more, with James giving an incredible performance.
Director X who has fine tuned his visual style through music videos offers up smart stripped back stylings with intelligent cinematography which compliments the films tone.
Rodriguez to direct "Escape from New York"
John Carpenters classic is one of those 'dont touch' films. Enter Robert Rodriguez, the man behind films like "El Mariachi", "Desperado" and "Sin City" and it starts to sound interesting. Add original helmer John Carpenter as Executive Producer and remaking the 'Snake Plissken' classic doesnt seem so crazy as it did before.
Anyone who has seen Rodriguez Mariachi trilogy will know he knows how to handle a reluctant hero and mix it with its simplistic but incredibly effective film making style and this starts to look like a hot property. With Carpenters blessing too this looks a more and more tempting prospect.
While remakes are rarely worthy as both successors or even as remakes their have been some success stories. While Carpenter has been vocal about the Rob Zombie version of his other classic "Halloween" and even the recent "The Thing" remake it would be easy for Carpenter to dismiss a remake of "Escape from New York" but his clear admiration of Rodriguez has clearly got him excited about the prospect.
Cinema to remember
Can the "It" remake actually work?
Nicolas Winding Refn is a man at the top of his game right now.
While he has been working for a number of years but it was 2008 Tom Hardy starring "Bronson" that brought him to the attention of the cinematic universe. With a unique and stylised visual mind Refn is the alternative filmmaker cinema can sometimes find hard to understand. When he teamed with Ryan Gosling for "Drive" his stock grew further and with producing duties on an up coming "Maniac Cop" remake Refn is a filmaker with both critical and commercial adoration.
Watch out Marvel as DC look to strike back.
Why do computer game adaptions fail?
Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons and with director Justin Kurzel ("Macbeth") at the helm of a film based on the highly popular video game 'Assains Creed', what could go wrong?
Films adapted from video games are rarely sucessful but with hugely popular games why do the films bomb? When watching Michael Fassbender in Kurzels film it made me wonder is the film really that bad? Had the film not been named after the game would it have had a better reaction? Yes.The film itself is no award winner but it is a well written sci-fi thriller that is backed by a strong cast and a very capable director, but is bogged down by a weight around its neck that is the game it is adapted from. Had it have been the same film with a different title it would have reached a different audience.
While this could be the case with some it doesnt stretch to all. 1993 "Super Mario bros" starring Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo came out to a poor critical and commercial reaction.
The "Resident Evil" franchise is a good example of a sucessful adaption. While some believe the films didnt have enough horror or relevance to the games, it carried a healthy box office. Each film combined various aspects of each game to give one big cinematic picture.
With game adaptions coming thick and fast including the final installment of "Resident Evil" sometimes as with book adaptions we have to let go of the original source material and let the films stand for themselves.
Believe in the magic of cinema
"We are not trying to entertain the critics. I'll take my chances with the public"
film vs digital
"Film is the best way to capture an image and project that image. It just is hands down"
Christopher Nolan gives his feelings about film
American Crime Story is TV gold
As one of the best known and most controversial trials in history a story of murder , mystery , intrigue, the trial of OJ Simpson rocked the world.
The story has been dealt with in various forms yet none really dealt with the gritty but sensitive subject matter at hand. Step forward master producer Ryan Murphy ("Glee", "American HorrorStory") and "American Crime Story : People vs OJ Simpson" was born.
Murphy regular Sarah Paulson was cast as Marcia Clark the woman tasked with carrying out the case against Simpson. Paulson is as always outstanding giving what could be a career best performance.
With a strong cast now including John Travolta (who also acts as producer), David Schwimmer, Selma Blair and Nathan Lane, who to play OJ? Step forward Cuba Gooding Jr, who may have needed a hit after a string of under whelming projects.
Spread over ten episodes the incredibly gripping and thrilling story was intense as it could be. Gooding Jr is the best he has been since "Jerry Maguire" giving an understated emotional performance.
Even knowing the outcome of this story it still has you gripped from start to finish, showing the real emotional battle from both sides but most intriguing it still gives an open ending letting the audience make up their own mind about his guilt.
This show is a must for just general lovers of intelligently made shows with Paulson and Gooding Jr the driving force behind this.
film vs digital
"I'm very hopeful that future generations will be much smarter than this generation and realize what they lost"
Quentin Tarantino speaks out in support of film
DC movies and their directors
DC movies have had their ups and downs and have not exactly been loved by critics, so what next?
It has recently been reported that "Kick Ass" director Matthew Vaughn is in talks to direct "Man of Steel 2", is this a step towards a lighter toned film?
Zack Snyders Man of Steel was a commercial success and recieved mixed reviews from critics but this new version of Superman was a more grounded version carrying more emotion than any comic book film to that point. Also post "Batman v Superman" DC are looking for answers but the lighter tone cant fix anything as it is just another step towards being just another comic book film.
DC need to maintain the path they have started as it is smart and gritty and more thrilling than most comic book films. Christopher Nolan was quoted as saying Zack Snyders 2009 adaption of the graphic novel "Watchmen" was ahead of its time and with every film you get the same feeling about the DC films. While Marvel get the praise DC are brave enough to be different.
With James Wan set to direct the 2018 "Aquaman" starring Jason Momoa and Patty Jenkins "Wonder Woman" hitting cinemas in 2017 both Warner Bros and DC seem keen to work with visaul storytellers. As for the remaining franchises the one that stands out has to be Ezra Millers "Flash". Rick Famuyiwa was set to direct but dropped out putting the film back. There is one name for me that fits this character to perfection, Edgar Wright. The man behind "Hot Fuzz" was slated to direct "Ant Man" before he left to creative differences, but his mix of snappy visuals and slick humor mixed with Ezra Miller would make "Flash" a hell of a film.
As for "Man of Steel 2" there are a number of directors who could give this an extra something but for me "Jurassic World 2" helmer JA Bayona would be an exciting call.
Is the new incarnation of Planet of the apes the best franchise of the last decade?
Planet of the apes began with the Charlton Heston starring original and became a classic spawning numerous sequels.
In 2001 Tim Burton directed a reboot of the apes franchise starring Mark Wahlberg which was both a critical and commercial dud.
Fast forward ten years and director Rupert Wyatt was tasked with telling the origins of the Apes and creating a whole new timeline. "Rise of the planet of the apes" was a smart grounded thriller which played on real world issues and gave the sci-fi franchise a feel of realism. The film found both critical and commercial success and people wanted more.
After the success of the first a sequel was guaranteed, but creative differences saw Wyatt leave and "Cloverfield" director Matt Reeves step in.
"Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" was released in 2014 with the Apes evolution near complete, the action was ramped up as humans turn on the apes. But it is the human connection that is key here, expertly handled by Reeves the story while packed with action set pieces retained its emotional side.
2017 will see the release of what is believed to be the final installment of the Apes franchise with "War for the planet of the apes". Reeves again returning to direct what promises to be an emotional thrill ride.
This new Apes franchise has proved both critical and commercial successes and have to be considered one of the best franchises in cinema today.
cinema to remember
Blair Witch Project directors cut
After the recent success of Adam Wingards "Blair Witch", it again began people talking about the acclaimed 1999 original "The Blair Witch Project".
The originals co director Eduardo Sanchez has been quoted as saying he had an idea and would love to recut the film for a longer version. With near 19 hours of footage shot for the original, it is clear that there is more to the film than what we saw.
The issue though is Lionsgate as they own the footage and seem reluctant to put together the project fearing it may not make business sense. But with a loyal cult following there may still be light at the end of the tunnel.
Petitions have been created to get Lionsgate to release the footage and if you are a Blair Witch fan or if you just have respect for a genre defining film sign the petition and lets see the cut we really want to see.
Oscar winning Director Steve Mcqueen is renowned for his dedication to his stories. His collaborations with Michael Fassbender have become the back bone to his success.
Winning the oscar for best picture for his true story "12 Years a slave" Mcqueen remains commited for telling real human stories.
For Mcqueen at his best seek out the Fassbender starring "Hunger".
Fede Alvarez to helm "The Girl In The Spiders Web"
Fede Alvarez (Evil Dead (2013), Dont Breathe (2016)) has been named as the man to helm the sequel to the David Fincher directed 2011 "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo".
While it has been touted as a sequel the film could also be viewed as a reboot as it is based on the novel by David Lagercrantz and not part of the original Stieg Larsson trilogy.
While Finchers 2011 film cannot be classed as a commercial success it was a typical Fincher gripping thriller and was appreciated critically and found a market on dvd/blu ray. Many predicted that Fincher would not return to the franchise as studio dragged its feet with a sequel and Rooney Maras yes im in no im not merry go round which ultimately created the need for a fresh start. I am a big fan of David Fincher and enjoyed his 2011 film but I did question the need for the remake as the original Noomi Rapace starring original, directed by Niels Arden Oplev was a masterpiece.
The new path for the film steered by Alvarez has been met with varied reaction. Fans of Fincher have voiced their disapproval at the appointment believing Alvarez to be too commercial. But anyone who has seen his last offering , the intense thriller "Dont Breathe" will know he does has a flair for visuals and a knack for creating a gripping story.
I am happy to give Alvarez a chance and I believe he may suprize alot of people.
cinema to remember
Films to watch before you die
The Robert Eggers directed period horror film came out of no where winning critical applause on the festival circuit.
Starring Ralph Inneson and Kate Dickie the smart and eerie tale is a perfect example of a slow burning horror at its best. It is Anya Taylor-joy as Thomasin that stands out though giving an incredible break through performance.
Blum is an inspiration to any upcoming producers
Jason Blum is a prolific film producer who is best known for his horror projects.
Blum House Productions are one of the most succesful companies working in film today with franchises like "Insidious", "Paranormal Activity" and "Sinister" to name a few under their banner.
At the head of this success is Jason Blum. He began life working with Harvey and Bob Weinstein as an executive producer learning his trade from two of the best in the business put him in a good place to start out.
Blums passion for film pushed him on and in 2000 he created Blum house Productions, a company which specializes in micro budget projects. His passion and drive made the company a haven for up and coming film makers. The biggest success to date is the first instalment of the "Paranormal Activity" franchise which made $200 million on a $15,000 budget. Aswell as his succesful horror projects Blum has also seen critical adoration, producing the oscar nominated "Whiplash".
The continued success of the Blum House is driven by Jason Blum and he stands as a shining example to film makers and producers around the world trying to break into the industry.
Fede Alvarez began his feature film career with one of the rtrickiest jobs in the business, remaking the cult classic "Evil Dead" for a new generation. To everyone suprise Alvarez suceeded to both commercial and critical success.
In 2016 he proved himself to be a versatile and creative director helming the scary thriller "Dont Breathe" with Stephen Lang. His smart directorial style mixed with stylized visuals showed a confident director who is growing with every film. The success of "Dont Breathe" even had him named as a possible director for "The Batman" but he narrowly lost out to Matt Reeves.
Is Camerons Avatar going to redefine cinema?
Like him or not, enjoy his films or not James Cameron has to be realized as a pioneer of cinema.
From Terminator to Avatar Cameron has always been ahead of his years in every respect. He has spent years developing 3d technology to the extent that his visuals almost do explode from the screen.
With his documentaries like "Ghosts of the Abyss" Cameron almost used these to develop himself both technically and creatively persuing his passions while developing his visual style. In some ways it was like watching a film student starting out.
Avatar became the highest grossing film of all time after its 2009 release,drawing everybody into the beauty that was Pandora while thrilling with intense set pieces of action. All done in possibly the most accomplished 3d film ever made.
Most franchise films spare little time in releasing sequels after succesful openings but Cameron refused to be drawn on this and instead began trying to further the 3d technology that he himself had perfected for the first "Avatar".
With Avatar 2-5 to be released between 2018 and 2023 there is no doubt that Cameron has a master plan and after Avatar 1 and the technology he created, with the next Avatars you have to believe that the visuals are going to redefine cinema and possibly create a whole new way of how we view film.
Barry Jenkins is a director no one really knew until the 2017 Academy awards and the best picture win for his acclaimed drama "Moonlight".
He has been quietly building a solid reputation as a very capable dramatic director. With "Moonlight" he drew out a relativley unknown cast and created an outstanding and very touching film.
Jenkins is one to watch and it is highly recommended that you seek out his previous offerings too.
Hans Zimmer masterclass
Adam Wingard is probably best known for his 2016 reboot/sequel "Blair Witch" but not alot of people realize he is also responsible for a number of growing cult classics aswell.
Wingard really began getting noticed after his 2011 thriller "You're Next" which put him on the radar in Hollywood. The film gained both critcal and commercial success. Wingard also directed segments of the "VHS" anthology series aswell as a segment of the "ABC of Death" series. While his horror entries have been succesful he has also shown verasatility with the Dan Stevens starring thriller "The Guest". With remakes of both "Death Note" and "I Saw The Devil" on the way, it shows Wingard is not only talented but also is not afraid of being challenged.
Eli Roth suprises with erotic thriller
Eli Roth suprised alot of people with this small erotic thriller. The simple idea of this film is a family man is drawn in by two beautiful young girls and ultimatley pays the price, is by the end turned into an almost morality tail.
After the shocks of "Cabin Fever" and the gut churning "Hostel 1+2" Roth became the new face of horror, young director who is willing to go to extremes to scare and disturb audiences.
With "Knock Knock" Roth offers up his most accomplished work yet. Keanu Reeves is the average joe family man whos life is turned upside down when two young girls knock at his door while his family are away and a heavy storm rains down. Believing he is doing a good deed, things take a sinister turn as the girls seduce him and leave him lumbered with guilt, but things grow worse as the girls begin to torture him both phsyically and mentally punishing him for his deeds.
The story is superbly written and expertly handled and the simplicity just offers an extra layer of realism.
Ridley Scott returns to form
The man behind the Dark knight trilogy (touted as one of the best trilogies of all time) and the mind bending "Inception", Christopher Nolan is one of the few directors who have stepped up to studio films and suceeded in a big way.
Starting with the nightmarish "Following" and up to his most recent , the epic space flick "Interstellar" Nolan continues to grab audiences with his sleek storytelling and willingness to shoot in camera effects as and where possible rather than cgi. With his world war 2 story "Dunkirk" due in 2017 Nolan continues intrigue and entertain like no one else.
an underrated masterpiece?
When Nicolas Winding Refn teamed up with Ryan Gosling they made a cult classic with the critically acclaimed "Drive".
Refns strength is always in his stories. Multi layered stories that play out almost as film noir some might even say they are love notes to 70s cinema.
While "Drive" is seen as Refns masterpiece, "Only God Forgives", has to be one of if not the most underrated film ever made.
"Only God Forgives" was the second collaboration between Refn and Gosling but compared to their first film this felt different. Again Refn as always created a story which was structured on various levels and in some ways played out like a greek tragedy. In a story where it was hard to distinguish the good and bad it often posed moral questions to the audience like is revenge the best option and is eye for an eye the only way?
The story revolves around Julian (Gosling) a succesful drug smuggler in Bangkok whos life becomes more complicated when his mother compels him to find and kill whoever is reponsible for his brothers recent death.
With in credible visuals, which make Bangkok seem alive and Refns usual unique style of soundtrack "Only God Forgives" is in alot of ways a missed gem that has to be seen.
cinema to remember
Academy award winners 2017
The Academy awards 2017 were hit with a few little 'mis-haps' but they did turn out to be one of the closest run in years.
The Oscars so white campaign that hit last years ceremony (while i understand and agree with the campaigns sensibilities I did feel for last years nominees as in some ways they must have felt a little disrespected) but it was now a distant memory and 2017 was a far more varied affair and every film nominated this year was there on merit.
Main Catergory winners:
BEST PICTURE: Moonlight
Even after the mishap, this was a well deserved win for an outstanding film. Bravo to the Academy for recognising a small but deserving film like this.
BEST ACTOR: Casey Affleck
This was a suprising win but that is not to say he didnt deserve it for his powerful performance in "Manchester by the sea". I have to admit I was expecting it to go to Denzel Washington.
BEST ACTRESS: Emma Stone
In a tough catergory full of worthy winners there was just something about Emma Stone. Endearing, compelling and entertaining but most of all a unique performance.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Mahershala Ali
Although I feel for Dev Patel, after by far a career best performance in "Lion", Ali deserved this. People will be expecting big things from him now.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Viola Davis
This has to be a career best for Davis. She stood out in this catergory from the start.
BEST ANIMATED FILM: Zootopia
While I was expecting a win for "Kubo" there is no denying the appeal of "Zootopia".
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: La La Land
With powerful and enchanting visuals there is no denying the right film won.
BEST DIRECTOR: Damien Chazelle
Chazelle was always favourite here but it had to be a close run contest with Kenneth Lonergan.
ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Moonlight
The right and only choice.
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Manchester by the sea
Again this was a well deserved winner. Lonergans script is everything any actor would want.
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE: La La Land
It was a clear favourite and a worthy winner.
Film for fans
Whats the difference between a film like "sharknado" and something like Clint Eastwoods "American Sniper"?
Truth is "sharknado" has a cult following and "American Sniper" is a critically acclaimed biopic that is expertly handled by Eastwood.
As a fan of cinema and film I find it frustrating that 99% of critics review films but tend to ignore that some films are purely entertainment and are not out for critical adoration.
As with anything though reviews are purely opinions but for me i want cinema to pull me in and i want to be entertained.
Academy Awards 2017
The 2016 Academy awards were for me the best in years. Leo finally got the Oscar he deserved and Brie Larson got the love she deservedfor her outstanding performance in "Room", it was a year where the Academy seemed to have got it just right.As the 2017 show approaches the nominees again are their on merit with a strong list of candidates, possibly the strongest and toughest to call in years.
Main Catergory Predictions:
BEST PICTURE: La La Land.
While I see the Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone picture as the likely winner, in my heart of hearts I would like it to go to "Hell or high water".
BEST ACTOR: Denzel Washington
This always seemed like a two horse race between Washington and Casy Affleck I feel Washington just has the edge. Casey Affleck for me though deserves it with his raw emotional performance.
BEST ACTRESS: Emma Stone
It is hard to look past Stone as she is finally begining to show just how talented she actually is. For me though I would like to see Ruth Negga recognised for his amazing performance in "Loving".
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Mahershala Ali
Ali seems to be odds on for this for his performance in the acclaimed indie flick "Moonlight" and deservedly so. This catergory is possibly the toughest to call but Dev Patel in "Lion" shines and deserves credit for his role.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Viola Davis
While there are some strong emotionally charged performances here you cant look past Viola Davis and her turn opposite Denzel Washington in "Fences".
BEST ANIMATED FILM: Kubo and the two strings
The animated field is always hotly contested but Kubo is a unique film with a heart warming story.
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: La La Land
La La Land is a visual ride like nothing before. It is an incredible homage to the golden age of Hollywood. but I do feel that "Arrival" should get the nod here, mainly for its stripped back visual styling.
BEST DIRECTOR: Damien Chazelle
The La La Land helmer is head and shoulders the favourite here but I hold out hope that Kenneth Lonergan will be recognised for "Manchester by the Sea".
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Moonlight
This is a close call between "Moonlight" and "Arrival".
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: La La Land
Again La La Land seems to be odds on favourite here but I hope for either "Hell or high water" or "Manchester by the sea".
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE: La La Land
It seems almost obvious that the musical would clean up in the music catergories. The homage to musicals deserves the acclaim.
Infinity War is coming
After the success of "Captain America: Civil War" and "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" (the best Marvel film to date for me), Anthony and Joe Russo will again team up to direct the third installment of the Avengers franchise "Infinity War".
The Marvel set up has been highly succesful begining with Robert Downey Jr in "Iron Man" back in 2008, but Marvel do have downfalls. They do often lean a little too heavy on the popularity of their characters which can make stories suffer (Thor: The dark world is a prime example). But one thing you do have to admire about the Marvel cinematic universe is their structuring as each phase of their films have lead up to an Avengers film and they have always been good at creating buzz.
Casting is another of Marvels strengths with Downey Jr the jewel in their crown as Iron Man. Josh Brolin has joined the cast as the big baddie Thanos for what promises to be a highly interesting storyline.
After the poorly recieved "Avengers: Age of Ultron", hopes are high that "Infinity War" can break down the doubters. The Russo Bros have a mammoth task controlling a massive cast list while also trying not to let the story lose its power, as often happens in films like this.
I hope the Russos return to the formula they had for Winter Soldier and they create a comic book thriller rather than a Hollywood action film.
Power of the film festival circuit
Even with the advent of streaming and the ease of online distribution through streaming sites like Amazon, film festivals still remain the best way to sell both your self and your film.
Festivals like 'Raindance film festival have for years been the birth place of a number of highly succesful film makers and remain the best place to find the right path to follow in the film industry. When you look at directors now, some of the most sucessful found their way through festival circuits. Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez are two highly succesful film makers who followed a path through festival circuits.
While online distribution does offer ease of access it does not guarantee success and a career. While Festivals dont guarantee success there is more of an advantage with the films there are played to groups who could both offer you opportunity and/or valuable guidelines to assist you in progressing your project. There is also something far more fulfilling being around as people discuss your film wether it be good or bad.
Raindance film festival has become something of a legendary name in independent cinema and especially within the UK they have championed up and coming film makers offering both guidance and opportunity.
Film festivals are an important part to cinema and will forever help to uncover the talented filmmakers who are trying to find there way. There is also an almost nostalgic feel to festivals as it enhances love of film and brings together lovers of cinema.
Reeves confirmed to direct "The Batman"
After weeks of speculation and a will they wont they merry go of varying directors it has finally been confirmed that "Cloverfield" director Matt Reeves will direct Ben Afflecks first solo outing as Batman.
This is a positive move for the DC franchise bringing in the acclaimed director and the man responsible for giving extra credibility and both critical and commercial success to the Planet of the apes franchise.
Fifty Shades of unique.
Everyone knows about the Fifty Shades of Grey books, we all know they are not family films and we know the controversy/buzz that surrounds them.
When it was announced (and somewhat unsuprising) that the books were to be adapted for the big screen, it predictably divided audiences. The mostly female following the books had amassed rejoiced at a big screen outing for Christian Grey where as those those who had not read the books, just saw another succesful book adaption for the big screen.
Casting for this film would always have been the trickiest part of the pre production, but before that a director was needed. Directors left right and centre were rumored but it eventually fell to Sam Taylor-Johnson ("Nowhere Boy (2009)"). She was handed the possibly impossible task of creating a credible adaption of the book.
Everyone actor in Hollywood was mentioned at some point or another from Ryan Gosling and Robert Pattinson to Ian Somerhalder and Stephen Amell but it was "Sons of Anarchy " star Charlie Hunnam cast as Christian Grey. But as anticipation began building Hunnam unexpectadly dropped out naming schedule issues as the reason (although it has been said that he got cold feet from the mixed reaction after his casting). Johnson was quick to replace Hunnam with irish actor Jamie Dornan. Dornan work has been mainly TV based but his handsome looks and his more stripped back approach to acting made him an interesting choice.
As well as Christin Grey, Johnson had to find the right Anastasia Steele who could hold her own with very intense and sensitive material. As with Christian, Hollywoods young actresses were scoured and at one point even Harry Potter star Emma Watson was considered. The role eventually went to Dakota Johnson. Like Dornan, Johnson was again mainly a smaller supporting actress but again it felt like a good move not opting for a A-lister as they could have.
With the two leads locked in, Johnson could concentrate on creating the story fans want.
February 2015 "Fifty Shades of Grey" was released to mixed reviews (some quite savage) but to a mostly good reception from audiences and an extremely healthy box office take. This for me was a suprisingly good film for many reasons. Johnson handled the sensitive material with expert hands and deserved more credit than she got. The key to this film though was the use of music. From Beyones stripped back version of Crazy in love to Ellie Gouldings Love me like you do, the music created an almost eerie feel to this film. In alot of ways the film felt like a psychological thriller at time.
After the success of the first it was a suprise when Sam Taylor-Johnson dropped out of directing the sequel and in came acclaimed director James Foley ("Glengarry glen Ross (1992)").
February 2017 "Fifty Shades Darker" is released again to mixed critical reviews but with a healthy box office. The story continues the strained relationship between Grey and Ana but this film offers a more dynamic and deeply routed story. While the first was a strong installment, Darker feels like a more clearly defined and well rounded story. Again the music of the film plays a key role and yet again acts as an almost supporting artist in the story. Foleys previous work is a clear benefit to the franchise as the drama does take a leap forward with the actors pushed to their limits.
With Foley again to direct "Fifty Shades Freed" and a february 2018 slot ready and waiting this has been a suprisingly intriguing and captivating franchise.
I have to wander if the stories material has hindered its critical acceptance. Both Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson have become over night stars with this franchise and they have given very worthy performances and deserve alot of respect for not over playing the material.
Fifty Shades is a franchise that will divide the critics and audiences but taking out the sexual sides of this complex you would find a very interesting sub story that is both interesting and compelling.
Is creativity dead?
IS CREATIVE CINEMA DEAD?
Is cinema getting boring? Are there too many reboots and sequels now?
Every once in a while a film will come along and restore your faith that creativity and cinema can be magic and can draw out so many different emotions .
Recently I watched P.T Andersons "The Master (2012)", Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman on blistering form offering emotional performances directed perfectly by Anderson. This film loosely based on L Ron Hubbard's life is definetly one of Andersons best and Anderson remains one of cinemas best orginal thinkers.
But looking at cinema now, comic book films dominate the cinematic future with both marvel and DC mapping out to 2020, even films such as Harry Potter returning with a spinoff "Fantastic Beasts and where to find them (2016)" even the rumored return of Daniel Radcliffe to the iconic character, but is this a genuine attempt to entertain or the typical studios refusal to try new things.
The biggest culprit for being over used is Star Wars. With endless cash ins and spin offs and in every possible form it feels as if it may never end.
I am starting to believe that studios are too scared to persue original cinema and this is why we do have to treasure film makers like P.T Anderson.
There are parts of me though that does enjoy the mainstream cinema, I enjoyed Batman v Superman ( again it was my opinion that critics didnt like the fact that snyder did something new and fresh and didnt use the marvel formula).
The scariest thing in cinema is that alot of original films end up either having to find its audience on dvd or finds a cult following.
Blair Witch: sequel or reboot
I first caught wind of this film when it was in its original form as "The Woods" addmittedly I was already dreading it as there are too many lost in the woods said and done horror, you only have to watch the horror channel to see that. Not to say i dont find them entertaining, but as with Natalie Dormers "The forest (2016)" it looks pretty from the outside but upon watching you realize you have seen it 10 times before.
When I read that "The Woods" was from director Adam Wingard (The Guest (2014), Your Next (2011)) i admit that made me take more notice.
Then the announcement, "The Woods" is actually a "Blair Witch " sequel.
A very clever attempt at a sequel but for me Wingards genius is his use of information and his almost , follow the breadcrumbs story arc. This film opens up the who dunnit debate, connects the original, some say not enough others that it just raises more questions.
In my opinion, the fact that it has brought the original back to peoples minds means Wingard has done his job. People want to see more people want answers. It was suggested to me a prequel would be interesting, where as I do agree with that I also cant help but wonder if the mystery is the biggest appeal of the "Blair Witch". If we took away the Blair witch from Wingards film though would it have been as well recieved? Basically no. This is a run of the mill lost in the woods horror which although expertly handled follows the said and done horror formula of loved one lost so family go searching, things go wrong. But when you add in the Blair witch and the weight the character carries with it we automatically look at it differently.
For me the key to the success in this film comes from its claustrophobic feel which comes from the cinematography and lighting, it creates an almost rabbit in headlights feel. "The Blair Witch Project" created an uneasy feeling with use of sound and wide open spaces, mixed with the human fear of being lost, yet Wingards "Blair Witch"feels like the opposite in alot of ways tighter more sleek camera work mixed with simple lighting that draws your eyes towards parts of the frame before dropping in the scares where you dont expect it.
Does "Blair Witch" work as a sequel? Yes and no. Where as there are connections to the original are they enough to call it a sequel or is it just a sequel in name only. "Jurassic World" was a sequel to "Jurassic Park" yet had very weak coonections to the original. You have to wonder if it had been "Blair Witch" that was released in 1999 rather than "Blair Witch Project" would it have had the same impact ? Truth is no it wouldnt. "The Blair Witch Project" plays out as a more psychological horror but the "Blair Witch" feels far more gritty from its kinetic cinematography to its minimal raw sound mixing.
Is it just a lost in the woods horror wrapped in the Blair witch myth? Again yes and no. Although there are a number of arguments for and against this movie as we said before it does have a number of positives and its biggest success as we said is the fact that it has people talking again and has brought back the blair witch.
One thing I will say though is I would be very interested to see what would have been the original Blair Witch 3 that original creators Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez had initially started planning.
The simplicity of the original made it appealing and to audiences from all walks of life from critics to film fans and it was before its time in its approach, this made it ripe for imitators. Forward 18 years to Wingards "Blair Witch" and we have a trip back to the blair witch but with a more modern interpretation, and that is exactly what it is, a same sort of formula as the original with more money and horror thrown at it but it does still maintain that indie feel.
Will there be more? I believe definetly without question.
Was the Witch responsible? My view is I hope so. The original had for me what I believe is one of the best endings in cinematic history. To Wingards credit he pays homage to the originals ending while also adding to it his own touch of magic. As a horror fan i want it to be the witch because if it is a hoax as some fans believe Id feel a little cheated as I feel that would be a bit of a kop out , too many films try to use twists few actually pull it off. I believe it wasnt the witch doing the killing but I do feel like her influence hangs over both films.
I recently learnt the story of Elly Kedward, the inspiration for the Blair Witch, also Rustin Parr a killer who blamed his crimes on Kedwards influence. These were referenced in little ways throughout Blair Witch yet the original not so much. Knowledge of Kedward now and thinking back more and more to Wingards film makes me appreciate the film more and does make me question which I prefer.
We all know there was a Blair witch 2 (Book of Shadows (2000))
but this wasnt well recieved and was ultimatly ignored by Wingard, understandably as it would have been narrativly very difficult to go from that to "Blair Witch". I have my own opinions on Book of Shadows, which I believevwas a rushed sequel but a good idea just poorly executed.
The "Blair Witch" is a clever horror film that just reignites the debate of is the Witch real.
Cinema to remember
FILMS TO SEE BEFORE YOU DIE
Before I get into this one I do understand that there are a number of people who find subtitles frustrating but bare with me.
As I have said before I am not a fan of remakes etc so my adoration of this film goes against everything I believe in.
Anyone who knows his work will know Takeshi Kitano is a man who can make you laugh while making you cringe at the same time.
This film revolves around a blind masseur (played to great comedic effectvby Kitano) who happens to also be an expert swordsman. He travels the land righting wrongs and protecting the 'little man' in a story that plays out like a western. I guess it is an eastern, western.
From odd but effective musical set pieces to incredible fight sequences and an ending you will never see coming this remake of a long running series is certainly one to watch before you die, even if it is just for the sword play.
Cinema battle for supremacy
MARVEL VS DC
Again this is a tricky subject that will no doubt have people wanting to slap me.
When "Iron Man" arrived in cinemas in 2008 it kicked off a period of cinema and a mountain of sucess no one saw coming. Marvel played a clever game particularly with casting, using lesser to unknown actors to fill the iconic roles. From a personal point I was most impressed with Chris Evans as Captain America. A suprisingly entertaining first film, follwed up by what I believe is Marvels best to date with "Captain America: Winter Soldier". 2016 saw the third in the series and Captain America go head to head with Iron Man.
While Marvels films have been mostly well recieved both critically and commercially there is part of me that feels they have fallen into a trap of playing it safe as far as stoy structure and ideas.
The only time Marvel really tried something different was with "Iron Man 3". Shane Blacks more witty take on Iron Man showed a different Tony Stark than we were used to but Blacks more human and open style of story telling always feels less holly wood than most films. "Iron Man 3 " was a big budget film that felt like an indie from a story point of view.
This film is arguably one of the least well recieved from Marvel so far but why? It is the feeling that it is the black sheep of the family and the first time Marvel pulled in a film maker rather than a more ' fun' movie maker like Joss Whedon or Jon Favreau. In some ways the same could be said for the first Thor film and its Director Kenneth Brannagh.
With all Marvels success why are Dc falling behind? This is again the fault of the Director Zack Snyder. When he was announced as director of "Man of Steel (2013)" eye brows were raised but the saving grace was the knowledge that behind him as a producer was Christopher Nolan (hot off his Batman trilogy).
But was Snyder really a bad choice? The man behind "300 (2006)" and the accalaimed adaption of the 'unfilmable' "Watchmen (2009)". After mixed reviews but a healthy boxoffice "Man of Steel", was apparently too dark?
Growing up I saw Richard Donners "Superman" and yes you believed a man could fly but this was a different time. Snyder created a Nolan inspired grounded Superman. A Superman willing to fight to protect and the he shoudnt kill zod argument? what were his choices in that scene? He protected those people.
Along came Batman v Superman again said to be too dark? Batman is too violent? In Snyders film Afflecks Batman is twenty years in to his legacy as the dark knight, a version we have never seen on screen. Truth be told Snyder deserves credit for offering something new rather than playing it safe. There is distict possibility that Afflecks Batman was the Batman we all know and love (like Bales Batman who refuses to kill) but after 20 years and the frustration of facing endless battles to make the world better we all have a breaking point, even Batman.
Wether you liked the film or not ,the moment Batman and Superman go face to face sends tingles down your spine.
If you put a Hans Zimmer score into any film you know your already half way there.
DC expanding universe continued with Suicide Squad, again not well recieved critically but fans loved it. It can be argued that Suicide Squads marketing used Joker as a major selling point yet some say he wasnt used enough in the finished film. I agree with this to a point. Where as I enjoyed Leto as the Joker and would love to see more of him I do wander if more of him in Suicide Squad would have been a distraction from the other lesser know characters.
DC have to be braver with releasing future films "Batman v Superman " was not well recieved in the cinema yet the ultimate edition realeased for home entertaiment was better recieved as it filled in the holes cinema version had.
I will admit the "Justice League (2017)" did excite me until I heard they were aiming for more humor after the poor reviews "Batman v Superman" and "Suicide Squad" recieved. I have to wander if this is a genuine move for genuine story purposes or if it is an attempt to emulate marvels success.
A Bourne too far?
DID GREENGRASS SELLOUT?
As the fouth film (I do and will always refuse to acknowledge the awful "Bourne Legacy".) in a highly successful franchise Jason Bourne arrived with expectations sky high.
Jason Bourne is a very classy intelligent film with set pices that keep you on the edge of your seat, something we have come to expect from the Greengrass/Damon team. But I cant help shake the feeling that the film is a little over reliant on the director/star pairing.
While Jason Bourne maintains the high energy of its predecessors its main strength lays in its characters and the casting. While Damon is ever reliable (as he is in most films) it is franchise new comers Tommy Lee Jones, Alicia Vikander and an outstanding Vincent Cassell that give the fourth installment a new depth. Greengrass along with Christopher Rouse created a story that was clever and very effective to the point that Damon had barely any lines for the whole film but this worked as we have had three Bourne films to get to know him so for this the action was ramped up and was far more epic. Bourne is a much more rounded character as his memory is returned and his mission for retribution goes into over drive. One thing Jason Bourne does do which has only been done in patches in previous installments is it expands on emotional struggles Bourne suffers while also progressing the back story that began with Supremacy, 'who is Jason Bourne and where did he come from'.
There is no denying "Jason Bourne" is a great film but the question is did we need it? As a huge Bourne fan ("Bourne Supremacy (2004)" being my personal favourite) I am ashamed to say I dont think we did.
The film I admit I loved but it did feel more like a Bourne action film rather than the typical Bourne thriller. When we were introduced to Bourne in 2002 in Doug Liman directed "Bourne Identity" we met a new action hero that over three films (before "Jason Bourne (2016)")became an iconic character to rival Bond. It was when Greengrass came on board to direct "Bourne Supremacy (2004)" that the series really came to life taking what Liman started and taking it to the next level. After Supremacy came the again Greengrass directed "Bourne Ultimatum (2007)". Both Supremacy and Ultimatum were shot in a documentary style fashion (which Greengrass has become renowned for) which put the action right in your face and became more immersive than most films.
Where "Jason Bourne" does continue the style of the previous 2 this feels more like a studio action film rather than the compact tense thriller we are used to.
From the break neck car chase in Supremacy to the intense roof top chase in Ultimatum Bourne the franchise was built on compact thrills, the fourth installment while thrilling feels as if the franchise sold out to the studio system.
While "Jason Bourne"is far from a failiure does fall short in continuing the Bourne success train as it will always feel like this was a film made in reaction reaction to the flop that was "Bourne Legacy". Bourne should have ended with Ultimatum and avoided the regular hollywood cash ins that ruin cinema.
Cinema to remember
Films to watch before you die
Every once in a while a film comes along and gives you that WTF did I just watch feeling.
Paul Thomas Anderson is one of , if not the best, at creating real life grounded stories that quite often carry more emotion in one scene than most films do in their whole run time. With a dream ensemble cast consisting of John C Reilly, Julianne Moore, Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Phillip Baker Hall to name but a few, but it is a completley out of the box performance from Tom Cruise that will blow you away.
Andersons expert handling of this intricate multi stranded story keeps you constantly thinking while also making you laugh and cry. The film often feels like a Coen Bros film the way it plays out but it is Andersons quirky dialogue and playful visuals that put this down as a classic.
If you watch this film for one reason make it Tom Cruises multi award nominated (in my opinion his best role to date.) role.
Horror, zombie style
A Zombie home run
Sick, twisted a few words that often describe the films of Rob Zombie, but more often than not people fail to realize just how clever his stories actually are.
This film feels like it fits right in with the "Saw" franchise, but Zombie has a definite strength for creating tension.
The story revolves around five kidnapped carnival employees who are held hostage in a mysterious compound known as ' Murderworld' and are forced to play a game known as "31" where they must survive 12 hours against a gang of sadistic clowns.
The film often has throw backs to cult classics like "Battle Royale (2000)". Each of the kidnappees armed with a weapon and fighting for survival.
Since Zombies "House of a 1000 corpses (2003)" it is clear he has grown more and more in confidence as "31" feels like it is Zombie at his most free. With a cast of Zombie regulars like Malcolm McDowell, Sheri Moon Zombie to name but a few it is a twisted Richard Brake as ' Doom-Head' that steals this show.
It is true that Zombies films have always and will always be an aquired taste but as far as horror fans are concerned this film has it all. From sadistic clowns to satanic rituals, like Zombies previous film "The Devils Rejects (2005)", this is a horror film with a strong story and clever direction (and sets unlike you have ever seen).
The film while clever does have its downfalls. Unlike Zombies previous effort this film lacks the musical uniqueness. With "House of 1000 corpses (2003)" and its sequel "Devils Rejects (2005)" we got a soundtrack worthy of Tarantino and with Zombies 2 "Halloween (2007/2009)" films we got an often stripped back score which only helped enhance the setting of tension.
With "31" the score feels almost none existant saved only by the performances of the clown gang.
Watch "31", Sick-Head, Psycho-Head, Schizo-Head, Sex-Head, Death-Head and Doom -Head are waiting for you.
Awards are going mainstream?
Civil War: Oscar winner?
Upon reading recently that "Captain America: Civil War (2016)" was being put forward for awards consideration it raised alot of questions for me, the main one being is this the start of main stream films being accepted critically.
While civil war was in most parts n event film it did feel a little under whelming and the fight scene we all waited for felt like a school yard bust up. A strong ensemble piece that is well cast and beautifully written (Im not a comic book reader so i dont know if it is well adapted). While the film has alot of plus points but I think there are far better deserving films that have been ignored before and will be in the future. "The Dark Knight (2008)" Christopher Nolans epic Batman story scored 2 oscars yet one which went to Heath Ledger for best supporting actor to this carries the weight of "did he get it due to his death".
Kubricks "Clockwork Orange (1971)", Roegs "Dont look now (1973)" to the more recent films like Finchers "Gone Girl (2014)" are just a few films mostly ignored in awards season.
While I like the idea that main stream films are starting to be recognised more I still think there are more films out there there deserving of the awards season attention.
If Im honest I will never understand a world where Ridley Scott has still not won an oscar.
Tv storytelling at its best
Original TV at its best.
When I first read about "Aquarius" I was far from convinced. It takes alot from a Tv show to keep me hooked, more often than not with Tv stories you are just waiting for conclusions of situations which are linked by dialogue heavy scripts. I do have my favourites (walking dead, south of hell, the flash) but i always feel stories are watered down in tv.
Aquarius is the story of Sam Hodiak and his rookie partner who work to bring down drug gangs and murderers set against a backdrop of racial tension and radical freedom fighters in 1960s Los Angeles. While the premise may sound run of the mill mixed into this is Charles Manson (an incredible turn from brit actor Gethin Anthony).
Mixing true life Manson stories ( the infamous Sharon tate murder is prominent throughout season 2) with gripping storylines works perfectly in keeping you guessing all the way through.
David Duchovny is great as Hodiak but I cant help feeling we have seen this character before in both "Californication" and "X files".
Season 1 was good in setting up the characters but it is Season 2 where this show really shines. Littered throughout season 2 are flashes of the Helter Skelter murders Manson instigated. Every one of the flashes are visually incredible and will have you gripped from episode 1 till the disturbing season end.
Cinema to remember
Films to watch before you die
Tom Thumb (1958). Everyone has a film they will never forget from their childhood. While I could list a number of films for myself this was the one i will never forget.
When the Forest Queen grants the wish of a woodcutter and his ,who have dreamt of having a child of their own,it begins an adventure they would have never imagined.
This was a musical released at the height of the genres popularity. Tom Thumb was small in stature but big in heart and from the moment he appears on screen the character has you hooked.
Played beautifully by Russ Tamblyn, his acrobatic dance routines are a thrill to watch and his personality becomes almost infectious. With a mixture of catchy songs and stop motion animation mixed in with the real actors, the for its time is both joyful and technically on point.
When you add to the mix outstanding turns from Terry Thomas and an always fantastic Peter Sellers the film offers everything.
The Yawning Man is a particular highlight of the film along with the catchy talented shoes dance and song routine.
Countdown to Halloween
Nightmare on elm street (1984) Directed by Wes Craven
Wes Craven is a name most people know and he is forever remembered as a master of horror from his video nasties like "The last house on the left (1972)" to the "Scream" series (1996-2011). But in 1984 he introduced the world to Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) and he changed the face of horror forever. With numerous sequels and a very unwanted\un needed remake (2010), none of them ever created the same eerie and un nerving feel of the original.
This is a classic film that will never be forgotten and with a with a character who remains a thing of nightmares.
A shallow story
We all know by now what the best shark movie is but thats enough about "Sharknado".
From director Jaume Collet-Serra (Orphan (2009), Unknown (2011)) comes "The Shallows" often could be viewed as a big budget brother of "Open Water" (2003). Blake Lively is the woman in peril, who while on a surfing trip is attacked by a shark and left for dead on a rock just meters from land as the shark circles waiting to finish her off.
The film is played as a tough intense thriller but it is a film of 2 halfs and will draw comparisons with the numerous other shark attack films out there.
Lively almost seems out of place in this but i feel it is a lack of character development that lets her down (Age of Adaline (2015) for me is Livelys best to date). From his previous efforts we know Serra is more than capable of creating tension from a simple set up but this feels like he is trying to hard.
From the moment the film starts it offers up some very well shot surfing sequences. The first shark attack is well pulled off and the tension of knowing what it is and where it is but not knowing when or how it will attack creates the feeling you want from a film like this. Where the film does have a smart intense opening 40 minutes or so it is the last half of this film that lets this film down completly.
The second half of the film becomes very overly cheesey. It looses its intensity and mystery as you slowly have more and more interaction with the shark and the sequences become a little over the top. It sometimes feels like this is a reboot of "Jaws" just minus the story and using different locations, with the sharks sense of hunting in this you might even say it rivals "Jaws 4", I am sorry to say.
Maybe this would have been better as a short film.
Cinema to remember
Films to watch before you die
Les Mierables (2012). This was the most unexpected experience of my life. I have never been a fan of musicals ,either stage or film and when i was persuaded to try this i agreed for one reason and that was the cast (Russel Crowe, Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway).
With catchy songs, some which will have you laughing and others will have you sobbing.
The film is handled perfectly by director Tom Hooper balancing the harrowing drama with little flashes of genius comedic turns from Helena Bonham Carter and sacha Baron Cohen.
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The House of the Devil (2009) Directed by Ti West
As a fan of old school hammer horror this remains one of my favourite films.
Wests film is an unnerving disturbing almost psychologically challenging film that may not appeal to all fans of horror but after one viewing it will keep you talking and thinking about it after.
Tom Noonans performance will have you both gripped and terrified at the same time.
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Blair Witch Project (1999) Directed by Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez
There have been many imitators but no horror film to date has the uniqueness of the original Blair witch.
If this film was pitched as it seems from the outside ( documentary film makers research a horrific mystery and begin to disappear) it would have been laughed off as a ' seen it a million times before' film.
It is to Myrick and Sanchez credit that the film still holds up as a film that has still yet to be matched.
With a clever way of shooting (actors not knowing what was coming) the terror felt real because alot of it was. Yet it is the ingenius marketing and selling of the film that it will be remembered for.
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Atrocious (2010) Directed by Fernando Berreda Luna
Writer/director Luna creates an almost Blair Witch like feel here.
The spanish horror is up there with Blair witch in the way it creates alot of suspense from simple set ups.
Two siblings stumble upon something sinister while vacationing at their families holiday home.
3 steps forward 5 steps back
Film is going backwards.
In 1977 George Lucas introduced the world to Star wars, it was a film unlike anything the world had ever seen. Fast forward to 2015 and the JJ Abrams directed Star Wars: The Force Awakens, with a 30+ year gap it feels like a vain attempt to regain former glories. In the last few years few years we have seen reboots of "The Evil Dead(2013)" (original directed by Sam Raimi (1981)), "Planet of the apes (2001)" (original directed by Franklin J. Schaffner (1968)) and even the poorly recieved "Italian Job (2003)" (original directed by Peter Collinson (1969)).
Overtime this has started to become a more and more regular trend in cinema. It has slowly become an easy option for film makers now as the stories are tried and tested and with newer technology it does advance the visuals but does nothing for the story.
Nowadays the term remake has become old fashioned and they are more commonly known as reboots, it doesnt change what they are but reboot just sounds a little more catchy.
Some sequels could also be considered reboots. Adam Wingards "Blair Witch(2016)", while a smart well shot film,is labelled a sequel but you could easily watch this film and follow the story with out seeing "The Blair Witch Project (1999)". The links to the first are they but are cagey at best.
Another film to do the same recently is Colin Trevorrows "Jurassic World (2015)", this film did have references to Spielbergs classic but again you could follow this story without watching the original.
This maybe a preferance thing but for me sequels should be developments of characters and links to bigger stories.
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The Evil Dead (1981) Directed by Sam Raimi
Released in the era of the video nasties. If there was ever a film that was testament to what is possible with a camera and an imagination then this is it. From Raimis innovative use of the camera to Bruce Campbells , now widely loved character Ash, this is a comedy horror that will never go away.
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The Descent (2005) Directed by Neil Marshall
From the director of "Dog Soldiers (2002)", this is a smart story that will have you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.
With creatures straight from your nightmares and gory sequences that will have you watching trough your fingers this is a treat for horror fans. The highlight of this though has to be the cinematography.
Cinema to remember
Films to watch before you die
The Dark Knight (2008). Is this the perfect sequel? This film will be forever remembered for Heath Ledgers epic portrail of The Joker. Alongside the returning Christian Bale (Batman) comes the incredible ensemble cast, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine to name a few.
With sequels we look for character and plot development and progression which this has by the bucket load from the script by director Christopher Nolan and his brother Jonathan.
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Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) Directed by Tobe Hooper
Hoopers film has become a landmark for low budget film making and introduced us to Leatherface.
This is a disturbing story that plays out as a road trip from hell mixed with what feels like an urban myth.
The highlight of the film for me is the almost hypnotic dance like move Leatherface pulls as his last victim gets away.
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The Devils Backbone (2001) Directed by Guillermo Del Toro
The spanish language film is a supernatural thriller. Del Toro has a way of creating creepy stories which do create feelings of unease for the audience.
The story involves a 12 year old boy who is orphaned after the death of his father in the spanish civil war. Upon his arrival at an orphanage dark sinister secrets begin revealing themselves to him.
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Suspiria (1977) Directed by Dario Argento
Anyone who knows horror will be familiar with the Italian filmmaker.
Argento is well known for his use of imagery that will stick in your mind. The story revolves revolves around a young woman who begins to realize the ballet school she attends may have a sinister underbelly amidst a series of grisly murders.
Is Robert Pattinson underrated?
He will be forever remembered as the 'vampire guy' from "Twilight (2008)", but unknown to most for the last few years he has worked on smaller films, giving amazing performances.
I recently had a second viewing of the David Cronenberg directed "Cosmopolis (2012)" and you cant help but be drawn in by Pattinsons strong armed performance, in a film that sometimes feels like a play.
As an actor he could easily have fallen into the trap of playing it safe after the Twilight series, staying close to the studio system doing romantic leads. The first time I really took notice of his ability was after seeing him in "The Rover (2014)", an gritty thriller opposite Guy Pearce. Pattison was smart in a performance that alot of actors may have overplayed in order to show off their 'star quality', but his was a refined showing playing well alongide Pearce.
A second Cronenberg collaboration with "Maps to the stars (2014)" and another stripped back performance alongside Dane DeHaan in "Life (2015)" his performances seem to be maturing all the time but his almost reluctance to be drawn into the studio system make his output all the more appealing. With "The Lost City of Z (2016)" next up for Pattinson, his output is becoming more diverse and make for a more interesting ride.
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Hostel (2005) Directed by Eli Roth
While Roth is not loved by critics no one can deny that his films do exactly what they intend to do, they disturb you.
The film is well written and smartly held together, with varying sub plots including torture, seduction and revenge. Dropped into the same 'torture-porn' box as "Saw (2004)", yet this film has that 'it could possibly happen for real' feeling to it.
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Cinema to remember
Films to watch before you die
Gladiator (2000).Ridley Scotts roman epic has become the benchmark for historical films.Scott is known for his visual prowess and his ability to change his hand to any and all genres but this remains the film he will be remembered for. the film includes an Oscar winning turn for Russel Crowe.
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Man Bites Dog (1992) Directed by Remy Belvaux, Andre Bonzel and Benoit Poelvoorde
The Belgian flick is a dark disturbing insight into the psychology of the human mind. A film crew follow a killer as he lives out his day but their own morals are called into question as they begin lending a helping hand.
Planet of the Apes reborn
I recently watched the newly released footage for "War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)" and it got me thinking how well these films have been recieved.
While I am not a fan at all of reboots and sequels, I have to admit these films ticked every box for me. In 2011 when "Rise of the planet of the apes" was released I watched it with an open mind just hoping it doesnt tarnish the credibility of the originals as most reboots do.
With " Rise of the planet of the apes" I found a very smartly written film that brought the story into the modern era but maintained the integrity of the originals.Rupert Wyatt handled the film with care and gave us an adventure film we would never have expected. One of his key choices was to cast Andy Serkis, at his motion capture best, as Caesar the apes leader. Another key was the casting of James Franco as the human lead and he is as reliable as ever. Scenes between Serkis and Franco are often touching and tender (for me this is a clear call for motion capture performances to be awards considered). With a supporting cast that boasts Freida Pinto, John Lithgow and Brian Cox to name a few this was a classy film that began the series perfectly.
In 2014 we had "Dawn of the planet of the Apes" out went Rupert Wyatt and in came Matt Reeves to the directors chair. With Serkis returning, the story set ten years later shows a more evolved band of apes as Caesar cements himself as leader. As the planet begins to change Caesars humane side begins to be tested as ape fearing humans grow more and more violent. It is a perfect continuation to the evolving story while laying groundwork for the franchises future. With cast newcomers including Gary Oldman, Jason Clarke and Keri Russell this was a suprising sequel that while didnt quite surpass the original it did come close and also did everything a sequel should.
Come 2017 and "War for the Planet of the apes", the title suggesting a more epic scope. Lets hope the franchise continues its path of success again under the direction of Matt Reeves.
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How to watch REBOOT/REMAKE
I am an 80s child so I was raised on various films both good and bad and this has given me a varied love of film.
Recently I watched Paul Feig "Ghostbusters (2016)" remake and truth be told while it did hold some of Feig now trademark humour, it did feel like it fell short of the mark as far as up dating the original. I was told I viewed it wrong, that I shouldnt view it as a remake.
In 2015 I watched Colin Trevorrows "Jurassic World" and again while it did have parts I enjoyed I left with a feeling of disappointment.
It is rare that a remake/reboot matches an original and barely ever do they surpass them, not to say neither can or has happened.Yet still with every reboot that appears it arrives with a sense of dread.
In 1993 I took a trip to the cinema and watched Spielbergs "Jurassic Park" and was blown away by what I witnessed, it was everything you would want for a cinematic experience. Yet with "Jurassic World" to me it felt overblown, yet if I had been 11 years old again in this day and age watching it for the first time I imagine my feelings would be different.
So am I viewing the films wrong or am I just in love with the older ways of cinema a time that is slowly but surely disappearing, but for a few film makers who show their love of cinema of old through their films.
Personally I do wish cinema was like it was before where it was an experience where you go to be immersed where as now with 3D and a growing amount of CGI the experience is slowly being dampened by technology.
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The Walking Dead improving with every season?
Everyone has heard of the "Walking Dead" wether you watch it or not.
Recently though it has practically taken over the internet with its cliffhanger ending to season 6 and the premiere of season 7.
The end of season 6 saw Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and a select pack of his group on their knees in front of Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and his trusted barb wire wrapped baseball bat Lucille. Season 6 ended with a member of the group meeting a gory end at the hands of Lucille, yet producers chose to keep the victims identity under wraps till season 7.
This move angered some, frustrated others but there were those who liked the mystery. Being based on a comic book people looked straight to Glenn (Negans victim in the comic) but would the producers follow this possibly predictable path?
Over the six months between season 6 end and season 7 premiere the internet was swarming with conspiracy theories which covered basically everyone in the show, yet producers remained tight lipped, probably revelling in the buzz that had been born. For the haters of the season 6 end I personally dont understand the problem. TV shows can more often than not be accused of being predictable and confusing for the sake of being confusing. It has become JJ Abrams trademark to create mystery with his shows from "Lost" to the more recent "Westworld", yet it doesnt always work and shows like "Lost" became a little muddled towards the end.
The "Walking Dead" producers were extremely smart in how they built up to Negans entrance and how this would be the most explosive episode ever.
The season 7 premiere with Glenn in the line up all eyes were on him and the build up ( a power house performance by Morgan) was brutal but incredibly engrossing. Boom Lucille came down right on the head of none other than Abraham and again and again Neagan smashed his head in leaving a bloody heap.But as Negan turns his attention to Rick the show takes an even more sinister turn. An incrediblly violent interaction between Grimes and Negan gave this episode an extra dimension and created emotional depths the "Walking Dead" had never been to before.
As the premiere neared its end the shock happened and Negans victim turned out to be not one but 2 of Ricks group, Glenn felt the wrath of Lucille.
This season may prove to be a huge win for Andrew Lincoln in particular. While all the intention was on who Negan kills, it was an incredibly powerful performance from Lincoln that really gave this episode a punch no one was expecting.
With Jeffrey Dean Morgan chilling as Negan (one of Morgans best performances to date) and Lincoln looking on top of his game, season 7 is looking to be the best so far.
Louis Theroux is as honest as they come
Louis Theroux is best known for his brutally honest documentaries, mixed with his stone dry approach to his info gathering.
If you havent seen it yet I would reccomend the acclaimed documentary "Going Clear: Scientology and the prison of belief (2015)" yet understandably its tough approach isnt to everyones liking so for anyone else Id reccomend "My Scientology Movie (2015)" with acclaimed documentary filmaker Louis Theroux.
If you are familiar with Theroux you will be familiar with his straight laced approach which does tend to get under the skin of some of his subjects ( recomended viewing would be his show "The most hated family in America (2007)").
Where Scientology is concerned I am always a believer in to each his own but each viewer will draw their own conclusions by the end of this film.
The strength of this film is Therouxs organic approach to it, being constantly rejected by Scientology leaders and members he pieces together video and audio footage of past interviews etc and uses actors to portray this to the audience. It feels almost like a Michel Gondry or Spike Jonze film with its comedic tone, even the titles and music.
Throughout this film Theroux constantly pushes the boundaries by getting under the skin of scientologist members (his best interaction comes when he notices people filming him) and in typical english style he is constantly polite but fearless too.
This is Therouxs best to date and possibly one of the best documentaries of the last ten years.
Countdown to Halloween
Ju-on: The Grudge (2002) Directed by Takashi Shimizu
A mysterious house is the resting place for a vengeful spirit who marks and persues anyone who dares enter.
With 3 american remakes already out and a crossover film with the ring in the works this is a cult classic not to be missed.
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The Amityville Horror (1979) Directed by Stuart Rosenberg
Yet another classic film that has had remakes and imitators over the years that have fallen short of the originals creepy standard.
James Brolin and Margot Kidder are the newly weds who are driven from their new home by a sisnister spirit.
Countdown to Halloween
Countdown to Halloween
Trick or treats
- Halloween 3 season of the witch (1982) : An odd diversion from the Michael Myers story. Doctor Daniel Challis races to uncover a sinister plot behind Silver Shamrock, a mask making company on Halloween
- Halloween 4 The return of Michael Myers (1988): Ten years after the original massacre Myers returns to kill his neiece, but Dr Loomis again races to stop him.
- Halloween 5 The revenge of Michael Myers (1989) : A year after Myers attempt on his neiece he returns to finish what he started, but things are different now with her now being a mute.
- Halloween (2007): Rob Zombies remake is a more vicious take on Carpenters original. It has it fans and it haters but it is a worthy update of a classic original, but still doesnt quite live up to it.
- Trick 'r Treat (2007) : For something a little different. Five interwoven stories that take place on Halloween night. The highlight is definetly the demonic supernatural trick or treater.
full circle for Danny Boyle
"Trainspotting (1996)" is arguably Danny Boyles best work to date. Near perfectly cast (Ewan McGregors best film to date), the film was an almost harrowing black comedy that both entertained and disgusted at the same time. It was Boyles visuals that were the highlight of this film though from simplistic premises to almost mind bending scenarios.
2017 sees Boyle come full circle with "Trainspotting 2", it still feels like it is the return of the hero as the first film made him and with this he is answering the wants of both his and the films fans.
With most of the originals cast returning (Ewan McGregor, Robert Carlyle, Jonny Lee Miller and Kelly MacDonald to name a few), anticipation is high for Boyle to use his smart casual approach that made him (127 hours (2010), 28 Days Later (2002)) rather than his epic misgivings (Sunshine (2007), The Beach (2000)).
Eli Roth: The saviour of horror?
The best and key thing about Eli Roth is his love of film. At a time when horror in cinema was a very dark and increasingly tedious place Roth appeared with his grisly debut "Cabin Fever (2002)". This film had a simple almost 80s horror feeling to it with a group of friends renting a cabin in the woods, gradually they fall victim to a flesh eating virus that with it comes the attention of some homicidal locals. This was almost a love note to old style traditional cinema.
After its release Roth began gaining a cult following horror fans who completly bought into his old style sensibilities. With sucess comes demand, Roth found himself being tracked by various studios offering big budget films with scripts ready to go but for Roth this wasnt what he was looking for.
In 2005 he released "Hostel" a brutal disturbing trip into the dark side of the human mind. The film again maintained a simple premise of back packers been drawn into a hostel that held a dark sadistic secret. Powerful men were running a business where you pay for a life, tourists were kidnapped and locked in a room where rich people would bid on them and the winner would get to do what ever they wished to the victim. While it sounds very outlandish it does raise questions in your mind and as humans we think how could anyone do this but this was the cleverness to the story. Roth completed the film on a low budget, which Roth seems more and more at home with.
After "Hostel" scored suprisingly well Roth remained with his low budget roots with "Hostel 2 (2007)" continuing the story of the mysterious power mongers behind the hostel. This time though Roth had a main cast of women and went deeper in explaining the sadistic business. The film begins as the original did but flips in the middle and becomes a tale of revenge when one of the girls turns the tables on her tormentors.
While taking on a number of acting roles ("Inglourious Basterds (2009)) Roth began taking on a producers role with various directors but he constantly keeps his roots in lower budget projects.
Roth with never be a critical darling but to his credit it hasnt stopped him as his fans are constantly demanding more. He like the rest of us is a lover of film and makes them for the love of it.
When Roth directed "The Green Inferno (2013)" he could not have imagined the reaction it would get.Roth fans waited patiently as the film was refused a release by various studios, critics were disgusted by the film but Roth didnt waiver and pressed on for a release.
Natives portrayed as cannibals brought some unwanted attention from various groups but for me it played as a message of love to mother nature. As the film looked dead in the water in stepped Horror producer Jason Blum ("Insidious (2010), The Purge (2013)) who released the film through his Blumhouse productions.
Recently Roth has started to tread more mainstream stories but still maintaining the lowbudget frame work ("Knock Knock (2015)) but his next is his first foray into a mainstream studio picture with his Bruce Willis starring remake of "Death Wish (2017)", but Roth is still keeping horror side alive with his producing duties (a particular highlight is "Clown (2014)")
Roths fresh low budget approach to horror wether it be as a producer or a director still takes you back to the old school cinema approach which we know and love.
the end of cinema as we know it?
As we look at the rise of home entertainment and the meteroric rise of online streaming you have to wonder what this means for cinema itself.
Streaming has a number of plus points and does offer a means of access to entertainment 24/7, yet streaming does open up the doors to more prominent versions of piracy of both film and TV shows. It is both a slowly building trend that shows are now being made especially for providers like Amazon and Netflix but is this a positive move or a slow forming move that is frustrating some fans. You take "The Walking Dead" which is right now probably the most popular show on TV, but you consider what if a streaming provider bought the show and the shows loyal following would then have to pay to watch it. Me as a fan I wouldnt for no other reason than I couldnt see the point. It seems crazy to me now that 'TV' shows are now streaming only shows. Marvel has fallen into this trend with shows like "Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage" are availble through streaming only yet their other show "Agents of Shield" is available on regular TV, this is a confusing move that has to frustrate fans.
Streaming services do also offer some help to up coming filmmakers where they can use the provider as a distribution network for their film but again does this hinder their chance of working as filmmakers for cinema? Studios have to feel like this is a back door into film but it does lack the feel of a film festival which is where most filmmakers find their way in (Tarantino, Smith, Rodriguez). Films playing through streaming providers dont hold the cinematic feel and wether you have a top of the range TV you can never match the feel of a cinema.
The problem we have is that cinemas dont help themselves either, with prices now at ridiculous highs but also they are begining to introduce things like 3d, 4d and even 'VIP' experiences which feel like novelties rather than benefits.
We all now know that alot of films rely far too much of tech which makes the stories suffer. 3d is a novelty that belongs in a theme park or public attraction it offers no real advantage to a film unless the film uses it as a key component to the story such the Robert Rodriguez directed "The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lava Girl (2005)" in which the 3d becomes a tool rather than a novelty. 4d makes you wonder how long it will be before we are actually just invited to sit on set as they film, it is a crazy attempt at expanding the 3d element but again what does this offer any story?
Aswell as this some cinemas now offer a "VIP" service where ther offer extra comfort while watching the film and also some offer snacks etc. I have to wonder while you pay obvious extra for this service why dont the cinemas just use the extra income to make all seating more comfortable make the experience better.
Cinemas need to look at the constantly rising and falling numbers of attendances and wonder wether this is due to these crazy novelties that offer nothing but an extra £5 to £10 on top of your ticket price.
opportunities for future filmmakers
In the UK we have a number of very talented filmmakers and storytellers, you only have to look at social networks to see this. But does british film do enough to help its future stars? truth? yes and no.
While ther are no end of film courses etc and based up and down the country you have to wonder what these actually offer a student.
Nowadays anyone with a laptop and a digital camera can make a film, it isnt that hard but this isnt a recipy for instant sucess. As any film buff will know the key to any film being successful is a strong script.
Myself a student of a film school (Raindance) I am a fan of what they offer but as with any subject or career it is only a step and the rest is left to you. Being Yorkshire based I look to companies like 'Screen Yorkshire" for guidance and/or as a starting block to build my projects on and the information they have offered has been for the most part so valuable.
We can write and direct all the short films we like but successful or not it doesnt lead to the career path you always want. There are exceptions like David F.Sandberg and his virally applauded short film "Lights Out (2014)" which became an internet sensation and caught the attention of none other than "Saw" director James Wan who helped Sandberg develop the project into the feature film we saw in 2016. Sandberg is living the life now that me and other amateur filmmakers are aiming for but as in life not everyone makes it.
Anyone who knows will know that most studios will not accept unsolicited scripts, which basically means scripts from person or persons that they have had no dealings with in the past. So this is where opportunities grow thin and unless you find one of the few companies accepting unsolicited materials you have to spend years making short films and/or just developing your skills and getting them out there anyway you can (youtube, festivals etc).
Oppotunities can also be effected by the area you live. For example during my time at film school I was based in London which while studying I was open to various unpaid opportunities to be around sets etc which was an amazing addition to my experience as it played almost as an apprenticeship. But now being based back in Yorkshire opportunities are there but they are severly few and far between. Northern England does have openings for filmmakers but with a growing number of amateur filmmakers the openings disappear quick.
I have always had ideas for how I would broaden the opportunities for filmmakers fresh out of university but it is not something that could happen over night.
Even on my own facebook I see videos/films from amateur filmmakers that are honestly incredible and as a film fan I sit back and hope they make it as british film, while good is far from what it once was.
remembering the golden years of film
"No matter where the cinema goes, we cannot afford to lose sight of its beginnings"
Tarantino to retire from film?
If the rumors are true then Quentin Tarantino is set to retire from film after 2 more films, this is and will be a sad loss to cinema and film.
Tarantino has always had a strong following but has to be seen as an aquired taste due to his far out almost trippy stories.
When he burst onto the scene with the acclaimed 1992 crime thriller "Reservoir Dogs" people were drawn to his unique style which no one has ever been able to imitate since.
He will forever be remembered mainly for 1994 ensemble cult classic "Pulp Fiction". The critically acclaimed multilayered story was brimming with stars from Bruce Willis to John Travolta to Uma Thurman but it will always be Samuel L Jacksons performance that stands out.
I have my personal favourite QT film which has to be 2009 war epic "Inglourious Basterds", only Tarantino can get away with rewriting history and Hitlers fate. The film also gave us Christoph Waltz, in a role that almost felt sadistic and insane yet his charisma and performance had you drawn to him both laughing but then feeling like you shouldnt be. The film landed Waltz a best supporting actor Oscar which oddly enough was repeated when Waltz and QT reteamed for western "Django Unchained" in 2012, proving the pair to be a dream team.
QT trademark has come to be his use of music in his films, his love of knowledge of music is clear for all to see in anything he does.
Quentin Tarantino retiring from film is a sad time. I respect his standpoint and agree that sometimes you just know when it is your time. He is a blessing to film and will forever be down as a icon for his contribution.
are streaming services really that useful?
With a growing number of streaming services now it raises the question is this really the future of film and TV?
While I do see benefits like you can watch new TV shows all at once and/or films anytime 24/7 a day I do have to question the logic. While prices of the streaming services are for the most part pretty reasonable you do have to remember you have to have internet access for this to work technically meaning you have two expenses. This is much like paying for a TV licence then getting sky aswell, is it really worth it?
While TV now is mostly re runs and soaps it is understandable that people are bored and firms like sky and virgin are losing customers to streaming services. Services like Netflix and Amazon prime though are limited to the original shows they now produce and while some are quality it has to be said that 90% of its output feels dated, especially the growing number of old shows now being repackaged either under new names (Top Gear now The Grand Tour) or just an attempt to recreate old glories (Prison Break, Gilmore Girls). As with anything though there are positives like Marvels well recieved Netflix shows like Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage but then on the flip side you have the E4 televised Agents of Shield which makes me wonder why this is not a netflix show aswell. Streaming has just become the new way of renting movies, TV etc but again with the service we do lose a dimension of entertainment.
When season 6 of The Walking Dead ended it finished with a cliff hanger leaving viewers with tongues wagging for various reasons. Then upon its return excitement was at a peak bacause of the anticipation that had built. Season 7 episode 1 was a smash, some questions were answered and others were raised by the end leaving us again excited but frustrated. If the show was available to stream the following episode would be instantly available meaning no online/word of mouth build up no anticipation out of frustration it would just be there as/when you are ready. This causes shows to lose that word of mouth excitement and what should be 'I cant wait till next week' becomes 'seen it'.
Predictably we are heading to the point where films will have a dual online and cinematic release. More and more films/TV shows are looking to streaming as the future which is yet another step away from films being an experience and becoming 'just another thing'. Streaming is just another door for piracy to prosper yet again aswell as being another nail in the coffin of cinemas.
This being said I am not totally against the streaming idea as I do think it is a fine way to stay up to date with sports etc. Like as your team plays away you pay a subscription to purchase the stream for the game.
Like 3D, streaming does have its place but it is being over used and to a radical extent. My only hope is that shows like The Walking Dead stay strong and remain away from streaming services but also that films remain in cinemas until their home entertainment release.
Directors leading the way
In a world filled with reboots, remakes and comic book films it is just refreshing to see film makers like Martin Scorsese and Christopher Nolan doing what they do best, telling compelling stories that draw audiences in. Scorsese has the upcoming epic 'Silence' starring Andrew Garfield and Liam Neeson, surely an awards season cert.
For Nolan is the 2017 world war 2 blockbuster 'Dunkirk' starring Nolan favourite Tom Hardy and one direction singer Harry Styles, possibly Nolans most ambitious project to date.
Filmakers like this keep cinema alive and remind us what it is to be creative.
Is Michael Shannon the most underrated actor working today?
He is probably best known as General Zod in Zack Snyders "Man of Steel (2013)" but Michael Shannon is much more than just a movie star.
Shannon has almost shyed away from the blockbuster route prefering to work within the indie arena but also dipping his toe in the mainstream in order to support his love of smaller more personal films.
He has worked tirelessly as a reliable supporting actor in such films as "Tigerland (2000)", "Pearl Harbor (2001)" and "Vanilla Sky (2001)" but it was Curtis Hansons 2003 Eminem starring "8 Mile" that gave Shannon a real chance to shine. With a small supporting role Shannon gave a reliable and intense performance playing perfectly off of his hip hop co star.
The film gave Shannon the platform he needed to showcase his talents and in the same year he gave his possibly most outlandish performance to date in the darkly comic "Grand Theft Parsons" opposite Johnny Knoxville it was the first time Shannon flexed his comedic muscles yet the film well recieved was little seen.
Over the next few years Shannon gathered critical acclaim in his growing CV yet his love of smaller independent films meant even with the best of performances alot of the films were never seen.
Most recently he has grown with every performance, yet still staying with the independent cinema he loves, showing films dont have to be mega budgeted to be engrossing. In 2012 he starred as mafia hitman Richard Kuklinski in the biopic "The Iceman", the film gained mixed reviews but found Shannon at the top of his game.
"Midnight Special (2016)" was a critical and suprize box office smash and found Shannon again holding a small independent feeling film and engrossing audiences.
With a high number of strong performances it is hard to pick out one in particular but one film on his CV does stand out more than others that being 2011 film "Take Shelter". Shannon plays Curtis, a man plagued by apoclyptic visions and left to question wether he should shelter his family from a coming storm or if it is him that is falling apart. The performance is incredibly subtle yet emotionally engrossing.
Ridley Scott is back to his best with Alien: Covenant
In 1979 a film was released that changed the face of both horror and sci-fi.
"Alien" was Ridley Scotts masterpiece a film that kicked off a franchise that has been both loved and hated yet it was the 1979 classic that remains a rock solid example of a strong story mixed with disturbing visuals.
2012 saw the release of the Noomi Rapace/Michael Fassbender starring "Prometheus" dubbed a prequel to the original "Alien", with Scott again directing. The film was poorly recieved with peoples main frustration being the lack of 'xenomorph', the Alien stars of the franchise. With clear frustration Scott announced a semi sequel to the film, a feeling he has a point to prove.
"Alien: Covenant(2017)" was announced and Scott promised it would be the sequel the cult classic deserved. With Fassbender returning and a growing cast that includes the brilliant Katherine Waterston (maintaining the franchises love of strong female leads).
With information and marketing being released bit by bit, anticipation is growing and with the release of the poster recently showing the 'xenomorph', Ridley Scott seems to have found the film he wanted before.
The 6 Films of christmas
First I do and will not ever include "Die Hard" or "Die Hard 2" as a christmas film. they are stories set at christmas with nothing to do with the actual holiday so it confuses me when people consider it a seasonal film.
So with Christmas here and movie nights planned here are my 6 films of christmas:
1 Scrooged (1988) Directed by Richard Donner
Bill Murray at his best in the role of Frank Cross the 'Scrooge' of the story. Donner creates a smart comedy with a stellar cast.
Watch out for David Johansen as the ghost of Christmas past, one of the best parts of the film
2 Santa Clause: the movie (1985) Directed by Jeannot Szwarc
A touching classic starring David Huddleston as the title character alongside the much loved Dudley Moore.
But it is John Lithgow as B.Z who steals the show as the villain of the piece.
3 National Lampoons Christmas Vacation (1989) Directed by Jeremiah S. Chechik
Chevy Chase as the leader of the Griswold family aims to have the biggest and best christmas ever yet as always for the family it never quite goes to plan.
4 Elf (2003) Directed by Jon Favreau
Will Ferrell shines as Buddy the oversized elf in a strong ensemble cast and under direction of Favreau, the helmer behind "Iron Man". Heart warming and sweet alongside the madcap Ferrell makes the film a christmas must see.
5 The Polar Express (2004) Directed by Robert Zemeckis
Zemeckis created an enchanting story with incredible visuals using his love of motion capture. Tom Hanks in multiple roles is on form as always and takes the film to a different level.
Between the music and the superbly written story the film is an experience.
6 The Muppet Chrismas Carol (1992) Directed by Brian Henson
The Muppets give their take of the classic tale lead by Muppet regulars and alongside Michael Caine as Scrooge. Musical set pieces and characters we know and love give the film the appeal and warmth everyone loves from a christmas film.
Affleck has found his groove
In 2007 Ben Affleck released his directorial debut, the thriller "Gone Baby Gone" to both critical and commercial success. After years of flop films and weak box office takings many thought Affleck was finished. we knew from his early films the man was talented and in more ways than just as an actor but his first big budget lead in "Daredevil (2003)" flopped and seemed to send his career into a nose dive.
His directorial debut in 2007 gave people a new view on Affleck and his talent.
In 2010 he teamed with an all star cast for his second directorial effort "The Town", this team also taking the lead in the film. It was the team up of Affleck and Jeremy Renner that really gave the film its appeal, Renner in particular gained alot of acclaim for his role. The films gritty feel and strong chemistry was drawn perfectly from an excellent script by Affleck, Peter Craig and Aaron Stockard, based on the book "Prince of Theives" by Chuck Hogan.
Afflecks directorial efforts were really noticed in 2012 when he took the directors chair on the true life thriller "Argo". Again co-penning the script and taking the lead aswell as directing. This could be recognised as his most accomplished film to date, handling the true life story with intelligence and respect. The film went on to win best picture at the 2013 Acadamy Awards.
His next film as a director will be the 2016 prohibition era set film "Live by Night" and from recent marketing promos it is already begining to draw in alot of buzz.
Some may argue that Afflecks best work is when he steps behind the camera yet recently he seems to be back to where he was before, making strong appealing films that have people thrilled. Most recently he has been seen alongside Anna Kendrick in the well recieved "The Accountant" but more people will be aware of his role as Bruce Wayne/Batman in Zack Snyders Batman v Superman. Many eyebrows were raised when he took the role over from Christian Bale and there were even more haters yet Affleck pushed on and created a Batman we have never seen before. His strength on screen aswell as his animalistic prescence in the suit won over fans who were delighted when it was announced he would write and direct a new solo Batman film.
With the "Justice League" on the horizon aswell as the solo Batman film Afflecks comeback is almost complete but the key factor is their are also a number of other projects he has in development showing he is more than just a box office draw.
Ridley Scott goes back to basics with Alien and Blade Runner sequels
Film fans got a christmas present they didnt expect when the first trailer for "Alien:Covenant" went live over christmas and everyone rejoiced to see the back to basics style which made the first "Alien" such a classic. It is all there the dark undertones, the minimalist score along with haunting sounds Scott is a master at drawing you in before he throws in a twist. The hints of horror throughout the trailer offer the feeling of an old school horror while Katherine Waterston looks every inch the heroine we come to expect from this franchise.
A sequel to "Blade Runner" is something films fans always wanted but never expected. The film is a masterpiece of its time from incredible visuals to strong casting it had it all and made Scott a household name. While there can be arguments for and against a sequel to this film Scott seemed insistant the film would go ahead if things were right.
Scott took a back seat as Executive Producer and in came acclaimed director Denis Villeneuve (Sicario, Arrival), much like Scott an accomplished visual director but with a more grounded reality. The appointment was welcomed by all fans and buzz started to grow, the Harrison Ford returned to reprize his role from the original but it was casting Ryan Gosling that took excitement to a new level. as the cast grew so did the buzz and when the first teaser hit recently it offered just enough to leave fans with anticipation at fever pitch. "Blade Runner 2049" and with the team behind it could out do the expectations of both fans and critics.
Brent is back
Love him or hate him you have to admire the career that Ricky Gervais has carved out for himself. He has pretty much conquered british TV and stand up and unlike most actor/comedians he has also broke america.
The character that began it all was David Brent the star of mockumentary "The Office". Brent was an instant hit with fans as was "The Office" (Gervais co-wrote and directed with Stephen Merchant).
Fifteen years after Brent hit screens Gervais has brought him back for "Life On The Road", Brent still seeking the musical stardom that has eluded him.
We all know Gervais is an aquired taste but no one can deny he is the only comedian who can do everything from offend you to have you crying with laughter to making you cry through sentiment (Gervais show "Derek" is the best example).
With Brents comeback Gervais has played perfectly to his own strengths utilizing musical entertainment and mixing it with the arkward moments that Brent is famous for ( the Tshirt cannon stands out for me). While the film isnt exactly goint to be on awards lists you have to admire Gervais musical talents. With songs ranging from 'Equality street' to the annoyingly catchy 'Slough' ( only Gervais can write a song about a little known town and make it stick in your head).
If you are a Gervais fan this will tick every box, if your not then I would watch something else but no one can deny the songs are not only catchy but Gervais actually has a pretty good voice too.
With my second viewing I just keep hoping now that we will get more Brent soon.
A Rogue one
As a Star Wars critic i approached this film with caution, I went in with no real expectation and set aside the fact that it was yet another Star Wars 'cash in'.
"Rogue One" did have its appealing qualities. Directed by Gareth Edwards ("Monsters (2010)"/ "Godzilla (2014)") and starring an impressive ensemble cast, Felicity Jones, Forest Whittaker, Ben Mendelsohn to name a few and an outstanding motion capture performance from Alan Tudyk as 'K-2SO'.
Out of the latest line of Star Wars films this is maybe the one story fans really did want as it tied into the original trilogy and ultimatly began the whole Star Wars story.
Hardcore Star Wars fans got everything they wanted in this story including a cameo from the dark lord himself Darth Vader. The cleverest thing the film does is offer the connections to the original trilogy including a few resurrected characters (Peter Cushing was a particular highlight for me).
For fans of film this will not be high on your favorites list but you have to appreciate what has been acheived with this film and it does offer the feeling of adventure almost trademarked by Lucas in the late 70s and into the 80s with the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises.
While I wasnt a huge fan of the film I did enjoy the nostalgic feel it gave off. The acting was a highlight for me with performances of a high standard all round (Jones excellent in the lead with Mendelsohn fantastic as always) but Donnie Yens crazy and emotional performance will have you in a trance.
Seeing the young Leia at the end will bring out both emotion and respect. R.I.P Carrie Fisher
2016 a good year for film?
2016 will be mainly remembered as the year of the comic book. Batman squared off against Superman in Zack Snyders "Dawn of Justice", Iron Man and Captain America scrapped for supremacy in "Civil War", we also had some more alternative comic book films like Ryan Reynolds "Deadpool" and DC bad guys gone good "Suicide Squad". The year also saw a return to the world of Harry Potter with the Eddie Redmayne starring "Fantastic Beasts and where to find them".While the year was dominated by blockbusters like these is did also throw up some real gems too. Listed below is a select must see list of 2016:
1. Hell or High Water (Chris Pine, Ben Foster)
2. Arrival (Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner)
3. The Witch (Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson)
4. Dont Breathe ( Stephen Lang, Jane Levy)
5. American Honey (Shia LaBeouf, Sasha Lane)
6. Passengers (Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt)
7. The Handmaiden ( Kim Min-Hee, Ha Jung-Woo)
8.Midnight Special (Michael Shannon, Kirsten Dunst)
9. The Neon Demon ( Elle Fanning, Keanu Reeves)
10. The Nice Guys (Ryan Gosling, Russel Crowe)
Looking to 2017
Looking to 2017 the year is yet again packed with comic book films as most years leading up to 2020 are but out of those it has to be Snyders "dawn of Justice" follow that stands out as we finally get the "Justice League" movie, Affleck returning as Batman alongside Gadots Wonder Woman and they are joined by Ray Fisher (Cyborg), Jason Momoa (Aquaman) and Ezra Miller (Flash). this possibly the most anticipated film of 2017. In a packed year here are a selct few titles to look out for:
1 Kong: Skull Island ( Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson)
2 T2 Trainspotting (Robert Carlyle, Ewan Mcgregor)
3 Thor Ragnarok ( Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston)
4 Beauty and the Beast (Emma Watson, Dan Stevens)
5 The Dark Tower (Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey)
6 Alien: Covenant ( Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston)
7 Kingsman: The Golden Circle (Taron Egerton, Channing Tatum)
8 War for the planet of the apes (Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson)
9 John Wick :Chapter 2 ( Keanu Reeves, Ian McShane)
10 A Cure For Wellness ( Dane DeHaan, Jason Isaacs)
DC film universe a mess?
Cinema right now and for the forseeable future is dominated by comic book movies and while their popularity is never in question the contrasting styles have fans clashing over who is better DC or Marvel.
While most if not all Marvel movies have recieved good to rave reviews DC have critically struggled but you have to question the critics methods and reviews and wonder if there is a 'hijack' in motion to hinder DC movies.
In 2017 DC will release "Justice League", the massive team up to rival Marvels "Avengers" franchise. It has recently come to light from a studio 'insider' that DC's two big releases this year ("Wonder Woman" and "Justice League") are apparently in 'mess'. Im confused by this information as I find it hard to believe that one film never mind two which are currently in post production can be labelled a mess and the main reason is the final cuts are not even ready yet, so how can they be a mess?
With the release of "Batman vs Superman", critics panned it. Some of the criticisms i admittedly understand even though myself I was a fan of the film due to the fact that it was unlike any comic book film before. It crossed Christopher Nolan's grounded "Dark knight" trilogy and added the more 'graphic novel' feel rather than the 'comic book' feel of the Marvel films. The film was too dark? Yes it was and with reason. Snyders approach was to offer a more human approach, a battle hardened Batman, who has faced constant battles to protect innocent people see's a thret after Supermans battle killed people in the crossfire, over time he realizes like him, Superman was just trying to find his way in the world but also had a strong heart. Oh no Batman kills? wouldnt you? in a world where he had been fighting for years and yet still innocent people were being threatened, why would you not hit the point where you cross the line, he is after all human.
Another criticism I have seen was the dream sequence between Bruce Wayne and the Flash. the argument was if you dont know comic books you wouldnt realize that was the Flash? Lets remember at that point Bruce Wayne doesnt know who he is and makes it his duty to find out so the smart part is as the story evolves and as Bruce Waynes investigation grows we uncover things as he does so where is the issue?
So with films that are not even in the public eye yet how can they be a mess? It grows to look like a hijack of the DC extended universe so my hope is that critics can be a little bit more open minded.
With acclaimed director Patty Jenkins behind "Wonder Woman" and Snyder continuing the path he began with "Batman vs Superman" with "Justice League" DC is on a good path and I continue to hope that they follow their own path rather than bow to the critics weak criticisms and the ridiculous arguments put forward by som fans.
Spotlight a small massive film
When I finally came to watch this gem I did so with an open mind.
From the outside the film put me in mind of Michael Manns 1999 acclaimed thriller "The Insider", starring Russel Crowe and Al Pacino.
The film itself was completly different but in a very good way. From director Tom McCarthy, "Spotlight" is a controversial film based on the Boston Globe uncovering the massive child molestation scandal that rocked the catholic church.
With an incredible ensemble cast lead by a power house performance from former Batman Michael Keaton. While comparisons are there with "The Insider", both are tightly woven thrillers that are both smartly written and cast, "Spotlight" feels more like a puzzle that you put together as the story evolves. Mark Ruffalo again proves his worth with a smart supporting role (a very underrated actor who constantly gives strong performances that are, avengers aside, under the radar) and Rachael McAdams who is very understated in this film but constantly acts as the glue to the stories narrative.
With Liev Schreiber and John Slattery also in the ensemble this smart film will have you on the edge of your seat while also challenging you to review your view on the world.
Emma Stone the new Meryl Streep?
It was 2009 and an unerstated performance in box office smash "Zombieland" when people started taking notice of Emma stone.
She had it all smart,witty ,beautiful and talented.
While she gained credits in a number or romantic comedies and indie flicks her 2010 film "Easy A" gave us a smart leading lady performance that we had been waiting for. She has been happy to take roles in off the wall films that had unique stories which showed her talent was natural and not fame driven.
While my opinion is that Meryl Streep is the best actress who ever lived Stones career approach is offering us an actress who can turn her hand to anything but also is happy to just be a part of a unique film.
From blockbuster fare like "The Amazing Spiderman" to smaller films like "Irrational Man" she is constantly suprising with her growing confidence. But in between these films she fits in her fun supporting roles\cameos like "The Interview".
Recently her role alongside Ryan Gosling in the award winning "LaLa Land" has added yet another string to her impressive bow and with future films like the upcoming Cruella De Vil Emma Stones stock will continue to grow.
reel to reel film comes to life
I have grown up watching a variation of films.
From a young age I was introduced to films like "Laputa: Castle in the sky (1986)" directed by Hayao Miyazaki. It was a film not everyone has heard of but those who have, it sticks with you, it fires the imagination or "Tom Thumb (1958)" an enchanting fairy tale that has something for everyone (Terry Thomas and Peter Sellers are particular standouts in this).
Used right the power of cinema can have a strong effect on people of all ages and can brighten up the minds children.
The cinema trip that changed everything for me was when I was 10 and I witnessed Dinosaurs on the big screen in Steven Spielbergs "Jurassic Park", I was transfixed start to finish. Spielberg had brought to life dinosaurs in an incredible adventure and mixed with John Williams epic score the film had people engrossed. Even 20 years on the film is still relevant and has kids of a new era sparkling with imagination.
In 2000 I watched Ridley Scotts "Gladiator" and this was the film that inspired me most. Scott didnt make a film he created a world, it was an historical epic like no other before. From the moment I walked in to the cinema and took my seat I was feeling indifferent, I was already a fan of film and loved trips to the cinema, but this was an historical epic which alot of the time tended to drawn out and over blown. From the moment the film began Scotts beautiful direction, the powerful cinematography and Hans Zimmers amazing music, this wasnt a film it was an experience.
This movie changed me completely made me want to create stories. It made me see there was much more to movies than I first thought.
There is no better feeling than seeing a childs eyes widen as a space ship flies onto the screen or a womans grip tightens on her boyfriends hand as a man jumps out with an axe in a terrifying horror and it makes you realize how much film and cinema can be the escape from regular life people enjoy.
For 2 hours a person can escape their everyday life and problems and be whisked away to adventures and epic tales.
Cinema has a place and part to play in life and in my belief in education, fire a childs mind and their future will be bright.
Cinema to remember
A while ago I was asked what my favourite film is and truth told I cant decide.
So many films come and go and there havent been too many 'top films' in the last ten years or so but every so often you find a gem in the rough.
As for my favourite ever it is hard to say so I picked out a select few films that have stuck with me:
1 Zatoichi (2003) Directed by Takeshi Kitano.
A beautifully brutal story of a blind swordsman.
2 Hurt Locker (2009) Directed by Kathryn Bigelow
Intense and in alot of ways uncomfortable to watch as it shows sides of the military we wouldnt normally see.
3 There will be blood (2007) Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
Possibly the best written film ever. Day-Lewis is incredible and mixed with Andersons pitch perfect script makes this a must see
4 Interstellar (2014) Directed by Christopher Nolan
This space epic is for me the best space set film ever made. Nolans direction offers up visuals that make you feel the emptyness of space.
5 House of flying daggers (2004) Directed by Zhang Yimou
One scene made the film the visual spectacular it is, the drum dance scene.
6 Hana Bi (1997) Directed by Takeshi Kitano
This is a visually stunning masterpiece.
Beware the Slenderman
"Beware the Slenderman" is a documentary telling the story of a terrible tragedy of two young girls who lured their friend into the woods to murder her, luckily the friend survived barely but why would two innocent young girls attempt such a horrifying act? ' For Slenderman'.
This is a powerful and uncompromising documentary that mixes horror viuals and mounting youtube videos of 'Slenderman' with the story of these two girls.
The film is directed IreneTaylor Brodsky and she handles the subject matter we care and intelligence, treading the line between horror and informative.
Slenderman was created by Eric Knudsen (known as Victor Surge online) as an internet meme on June 10 2009 as on post on 'something awful' forum. He went on to be one of the most well known and most discussed characters of all time. He is known all over the world and is under constant debate of is he real or not.
While the documentary has Slenderman at its core you do have to wonder if the real 'bad guy' is the internet. The film is smartly laid out offering up areas of debate. Although Slenderman is fictional the internet helped the character spread like a virus, people offering up their experiences of him, some claim to have seen him others that they have talked to him, everyone seems to have their own take on him, who he is and what he is there for. But it was the internets that gave the girls access to every piece of Slenderman information they wanted.
While the internet cant be completely blamed its openness and ease of access does make accessing things both good and bad as easy as the click of a button.
With more and more stories about Slenderman appearing everyday along with a growing number of world wide sightings his presence online is stronger than ever and with movies and TV projects in the future the power of Slenderman will just grow further. After the incident with the two girls it is open to interpretation wether this is a good or bad thing.
The highlight of the film to me is the Pied Piper section. Incredibly visual and yet oddly disturbing.
Affleck steps down as director of The Batman
While Affleck steeping down as director is not going to destroy the DCEU it has certainly harmed their credibility.
I feel for him with this because the minute he was announced as director of 'The Batman' the rest of his career and work was practically ignored. Anyone in the know will say Affleck is a very talented director and story teller (some might even say he is a better director than he is an actor) and the announcement that he will direct the solo Batman film was met with great applause.
When it was announced that Ben Affleck was the new Batman for Snyders DCEU the internet exploded with negativity most stating they wanted Bale back, but Snyder stuck to his guns and promised a Batman we had never seen before. "Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice" was greeted with very mixed reviews, and to the shock of pretty much everyone Affleck shone as Bruce Wayne/Batman, giving a gritty dark edge to the Dark Knight. From then on people were chomping at the bit to get a new solo Batman film.
As Affleck was finishing up on his most recent project "Live By Night", the pressure of being Batman and readying the highly anticipated solo outing was growing all the time. The frustration of "Live By Night" and its promo tours being hijacked by Batman questions must have frustrated Affleck and understandably this ended with him stepping down as director of "The Batman" but retaining his co-writer and producer credit. While he explained the stepping down as being too much pressure trying to perfect the script and deliver the character fans deserve, I still feel that it was the abundance of pressure being put on him by the media the pushed him. People should have respected "Live By Night" and the work that went into it instead of using its promo time to dig for info on Batman. Ben Affleck is protecting his career.
Question is who will now step up to direct the solo Batman film. Here are my five choices:
1 Kevin Smith ("Mallrats (1995), "Dogma (1999)")
While Smith is far from a blockbuster director he is the ultimate fanboy and does know his stuff as far as comic books are concerned. He would be my top choice as Im a firm believer that sometimes it is an outside choice that is the best. He would be a good voice for the fans too.
2 Matt Reeves ("Let Me In (2010), Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes (2014)")
A strong choice for me. A smart visual director who has a great way of conveying emotion in a scene. Handled the planet of the apes franchise with amazing care while creating epic action scenes.
3 Robert Rodriguez ("From dusk till dawn (1996)", "Sin City (2005)")
I dont believe this would ever happen but I do think this would be an amazing team up. Rodriguez is a smart film maker who is constantly looking to advance visuals (Sin City 1+2 are prime examples).
4 Matt Ross ("Captain Fantastic (2016)")
The only downside to this choice is his lack of experience but his filmography prove he is a capable director. I would be interested to see a creative director be given the keys to a francise like this
5 Rian Johnson ("Looper (2012)", "Star Wars:the last jedi (2017)")
An incredible director with smart and intelligent films that make you think. Johnson stock is on the rise too with the forth coming Star Wars episode 8.
Cinema to remember
Films to watch before you die
Before he arrived in Hollywood John Woo was the go to guy for action thrillers. He turned out cult classics like "Hard Boiled (1992)" and "A Better Tomorrow (1986)" and most starred his go to guy Chow Yun Fat. But in 1989 he gave us "The Killer", an oddly emotional action film that finely balanced epic gun play scenes with a very emotive story.
new wave of talented filmmakers
In recent times people, including me have accused cinema of lacking creativity and originality but there are some film makers out there who constantly creating thought provoking work.
In 2014 a small film called "Whiplash" was released to critical and commercial success. The film starring J.K Simmons and Miles Teller, revolved around an ambitious jazz student (Teller) and an abusive instructor (Simmons). The film was smart, original and cleverly directed. On paper the story may not look like an enticing piece but in the hands of writer/director Damien Chazelle it became one of the must see films of the last ten years. Chazelle has maintained his recent 'hot streak' with the recent award fodder film "La La Land". Chazelle is one of a few up coming directors that show originality is still there and studios just have to be willing to take more risks sometimes.
5 Directors to watch :
1 Matt Ross : Writer/director of the acclaimed "Captain Fantasic"
2 Ava DuVernay : Director of the Martin Luthor King story "Selma"
3 Andrea Arnold : Writer/Director of acclaimed indie flick "American Honey"
4 Fede Alvarez : co-writer/director of the terrifying "Dont Breathe"
5 Adam Wingard : Director of the intense "You're Next"
Cinema to remember
Films to watch before you die
Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite handles to very controversial subject superbly in this highly effecting documentary.
A story of the controversial ways killer whales are captured and kept in captivity and the devastating effects it can have on both people and other animals around them.
Do franchises know when to call it a day?
2017 will see the release of the 8th film in the fast and furious franchise, and while clearly box office numbers show its popularity is there you do have to question wether it has run its course now.
Studios now strive to find those franchises that can have numerous spin offs and sequels but when is enough ever going to be enough? John Carpenter created Michael Myers for the classic chiller "Halloween (1978)", the film went on to be a cult classic and made Michael Myers a movie icon. Over the following decades followed seven sequels (not including the Rob Zombie reboot and its sequel) which were poorly recieved and in alot of ways pointless as they offered nothing new to the Myers legend.
The same has to be said for Wes Cravens "Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)" which gave us Freddy Krueger but also spawned 6 sequels not including a terrible remake and a "Freddy vs Jason (2003)" spin off. Again the same though the sequels felt laboured and rushed as if to cash in on the originals success.
While horror is the easiet to achieve a high number of sequels as the stories are open to go anyway and any how. With "Pirates of the Carribean" on their 5th installment (and after extremely lukewarm reviews to their 4th) and "Fast and Furious" on their 8th ( the stories feel more and more watered down with every film which they counter balance with more outrageous stunts) you have to wonder when someone is going to pull the plug and just say lets do something new.
Cinema to remember
Films to watch before you die
While the debate rages of which is the best entry into the Alien franchise, James Camerons or Ridley Scotts, for me it is Scotts original that stands head and shoulders above the rest.
The film is intense, scary even creepy in parts and is a masterclass in using sound to create suspense.
The power of music in film
Music is a massively important part of film and it can change the whole face of a film if it is done right.
Composer Joh Williams has created some of the most important film scores in history from his numerous collaborations with Spielberg which included "Jurassic Park" and "Jaws" to his epic commanding score for George Lucas "Star Wars". Along with this he has also created music for "Superman" and "Harry Potter". All of his music is recognisable and help to enhance the stories with emotion and also with extra depth.
While epic composers like Williams make a name for themselves by adding an extra layer to a directors vision, they are in alot of ways underappreciated. Most audiences watch movies and get drawn in by the stories, in films like "Jaws" the music acts as an almost supporting actor, you feel every note throughout the film.
One example of using music to expand a stories depth in Hans Zimmers score for the Christopher Nolan space epic "Interstellar". The uniqueness of using church organs for the score opened up extra suspense and also hightened the dramatic feel of the story.
While a film score is an excellent tool there are some directors who use music in a different way. Quentin Tarantino is the best example of a music loving film maker. His use of 'retro' songs and mixing it with minimal scores often makes his films feel like a trippy experience. Other filmmakers utilize this tool too Wes Anderson and Nicolas Winding Refn are film makers too who experiment with music.
Music used right can and will compliment a film and this makes it an important tool for any movie maker. Hans Zimmer, John Williams and Clint Mansell these are composers who constantly push boundaries with their music and deserve more recognition for their efforts. Composers and music producers behind movies are unsung heroes and should be recognised for what they give to a project and often a score can actually be better than the film.
A few select scores to look up :
John Willams "Jaws"
Ramin Djawadi "Pacific Rim"
Hans Zimmer "Inception":
Clint Mansell "Requiem for a dream":
is the current trend of films proof that the 90s was a seminal decade for cinema?
The 90s was a decade that changed the face of cinema forever.
During the decade we were given films like Jurassic Park, Trainspotting, Titanic, Forest Gump and Silence of the Lambs to name a few, the films were varied and the decade began a new era of genres and the real birth of vfx.
Over the last decade or so and as cinema continues to grow though the birth of new original franchises like Juarassic Park have diminished and we are continually bombarded with reboots and remakes.
In 2015 Colin Trevorrow rebooted the Jurassic Park franchise With the Chris Pratt starring "Jurassic World", an odd sequel/reboot of Spielbergs original series. While the film was slated as a sequel to some it felt like a reboot offering the adventure of the first mixed with up to date technology meaning the film was now available to a new audience. The film was a clever take on Dinosaurs meet modern day there is a feeling you could watch this without seeing the original.
2016 saw the arrival of "Blair Witch" again a sequel/reboot of the Sanchez/Myrick 1999 original. The Adam Wingard directed film was a massive hit thanks to the success and popularity of the original. Again The film could have easily played out as a solo with very few links to the original.
"Trainspotting" was a marquee film in the 90s and introduced us to the Danny Boyle and made him a hot name in the world of film. Fast forward twenty plus years and Boyle returned to Scotland again for "T2: Trainspotting".
Recent trends in cinema have shown that 90s cinema is a growing source of inspiration for studios and film makers. Wether this is a good or bad thing remains to be seen but with 90s franchises a constant topic of remakes and/or sequels we realize just how important that decade actually was.
BAFTA Awards 2017
The 2017 BAFTA Awards for me was one of the best in years. Every catergory was packed with talent and it was the closest to call possibly ever.
BEST FILM : LA LA LAND
An original piece which deserved its award. In a time when cinema is packed with remakes/reboots and adaptions it was good to see a unique original film picking up the top prize.
OUTSTANDING BRITISH FILM: I, DANIEL BLAKE
I was addmittedly a little diasppointed with Ken Loach picking up this award because I felt he deserved the more recognised 'best film'. I am not taking anything away from this though Loach is an amazing filmmaker who is not recognised enough for his contributions to film.
OUTSTANDING DEBUT BY A BRITISH WRITER,DIRECTOR OR PRODUCER: UNDER THE SHADOW
While I dont know much about this film I have now watched the trailer and read up on the films story and it is films and creative people like this that remind you there is still creativite thinking in cinema.
FILM NOT IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE: SON OF SAUL
A well deserved win. The film has gained major buzz in award season.
This is an incredible piece. Expertly handled by a strong creative team.
ANIMATED FILM: KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS
It is good to see a more unique animated film winning. this is a touching story that will have you feeling every emotion.
DIRECTOR: DAMIEN CHAZELLE
The La la land writer/director created the possibly most unique film of the year and deserved his win.
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: MANCHESTER BY THE SEA
Hands down the best acted film this year. A heart breaking story which is perfectly crafted.
ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: LION
Of all the nominees Lion was the safest bet.
LEADING ACTOR: CASEY AFFLECK
Possibly one of the most undervalued actors working today. He has quietly been building a solid filmography. Well deserved win.
LEADING ACTRESS: EMMA STONE
Emma Stone is an actress who just seems to be getting better and better with every film.
SUPPORTING ACTOR : DEV PATEL
Patel has to be the most improved actor working today. Amixed bag of films when he first set out and now with films like Lion he is finally showing his true worth.
SUPPORTING ACTRESS: VIOLA DAVIS
Davis is one of the reliables. Put her in anything and she will not only work hard but she will always find a way to shine.
ORIGINAL MUSIC :LA LA LAND
In truth there was only one winner for this catergory this year and it won.
CINEMATOGRAPHY: LA LA LAND
Hard to argue this win. Like the film or not no one can say it is not visually stunning.
EDITING : HACKSAW RIDGE
Much like Spielbergs classic 'Saving private Ryan' Mel Gibsons film is visually appealing with very well crafted battle scenes.
PRODUCTION DESIGN : FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM
Much like the other films in the Harry Potter universe Fantastic Beasts production design is incredible.
COSTUME DESIGN: JACKIE
The Natalie Portman film is beautifully dressed with the period coming to life.
MAKE UP AND HAIR : FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS
When you work with Meryl Streep you know you have the perfect pallet to create a character and this has to be one of the best.
The best and only choice.
SPECIAL VISUAL FX: JUNGLE BOOK
A perfect choice. vfx mixed with in camera effects.
EE RISING STAR AWARD: TOM HOLLAND
No disrespect to the Spider-man star but Anya Taylor Joy was robbed here.
Sheridan Smith shines in Shannon Matthews drama
Well written, smartly directed and most of all strong performances with Sheridan Smith shining.
The story revolves around the search for the missing yorkshire school girl Shannon Matthews.
The most intelligent thing about this drama was how it approached the story, rather than making it about the Matthews family which is normally the go to source for writers it beame about a community in shock and spear headed by Julie Bushby (Smith) the obsessive search to find the Shannon.
Keeping to the Yorkshire locations (the drama was shot in Halifax rather than Dewsbury, where the incident occured, this due to compassionate reasons) the story feels very raw and real and the locations play as an almost supporting actor to the cast.
While this is most definetley Sheridan Smiths vehicle you cant help but be compelled to by the supporting cast with Gemma Whelan excellent as Karen Matthews and an unrecognisable Faye McKeever (Linda from Trollied) with a smart turn as Petra Jamieson.
Although a parts it is somewhat disturbing this is a compelling watch.
Walking Dead returns
Season 7 of the Walking Dead has divided critics and fans so far but it has done what it wanted to, it has got people talking about it.
When Negan arrived at the start of season 7 something felt different about this season, it was more gritty, darker than it has ever been before and above all else it felt like anyone could die, no one was safe. One of the craziest criticisms was that the show had got too violent. In a show about surviving in a post apocalyptic zombie ravaged world there is going to be violence.
The Walking Dead producers have become experts at keeping you on the edge of your seat. Season 6 ended with the introduction of Negan and Lucille and the end of Season six left fans going crazy trying to work out who Negan had killed, then after the mid season break season 7 episode 9 saw Rick (back to his old fighting self again) rallying anyone he could to face Negan but again fans were thown a cliff hanger when the show ended with Rick giving a cryptic smile as he faced down a gun wielding new group who had him and his group cornered.
While season 7 has everyone divided so far the show has become alot darker and it is a welcome turn as we now see characters having to develop to adapt to their more vicious enemy.
The Walking Dead is a show which is developing into a new entity and if you go on the ride with it you will realize there is more to this than just zombies and gore.
Andrew Lincoln continues to excel as Rick Grimes. Season 7 episode 1 was by far his best performance to date and if anything is right in the world he should be recognised for it.
Braveheart director to tackle Suicide Squad sequel
Suicide Squad was not exactly a critically loved film but it did carry a healthy box office. Directed by David Ayer, it introduced us to a host of new DC comics characters and was the next step in the evolving DC extended movie universe.
As with any successful film a sequel was inevitable, but with Ayer now helming a Squad spin off film "Gotham City Sirens" with Margot Robbie, a new director was needed.
Mel Gibson (hot off the heels of the acclaimed Hacksaw Ridge) is an addmittedly interesting choice but I cant help but feel it is a rushed one. Gibson is an accomplished director and that is clear to see but I am not sure his sensibilities would give the squad what they need. Other directors reportedly in the running are Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland), Daniel Espinosa (Safe House) and Jonathan Levine (50/50).
For me it has to be Fleischer. He has proved himself to be flexible from "Gangster Squad" to Zombieland" while never letting his stories slip.
24 is back
Corey Hawkins is a little known actor ( his biggest role as DR Dre in "Straight outta Compton) but his stock is about to rise as he takles 24: Legacy, a spin off series from the Kiefer Sutherland starring original.
Hawkins is excellent and with episode 1 the bar has been set pretty high. Falling back on the real time set up made famous by 24 the new set up maintains the originals almost documentary feel.
24 was always good at using real world information to inspire its often political storylines, Legacy again continues that trend.
Legacy is created by Manny Coto and Evan Katz. Alongside Hawkins is a strong ensemble cast made up of Miranda Otto, Jimmy Smits and Teddy Sears to name a few.
Episode 1 down and it leaves you with the need to get to the next episode asap. 24 is back and it is better than ever but you do still have that feeling you would love Kiefer Sutherland to pop up at some point.
Has found footage had its day?
Found footage films are very hit and miss. Used right it can create a feel that film alone cant but over used it just feels fake.
The Blair Witch project is possibly the best known found footage film and was the first time cinema really stood up and took notice of the format. Horror is able to utilize the medium most as the genre has alot more paths it can.
Found footage breaks down that final barrier between the audience and the action on screen.
Over the last few years though found footage has been reserved to mainly b-list horror and straight to dvd films. While films and franchises like Paranormal Activity keep found footage alive in the cinema you have to wonder if it has had its day.
Found footage films like "Troll Hunter" and "Atrocious" are among my personal favourites.
As cinema advances so too are audiences and found footage becomes the 'just drop the camer and run' genre. It belongs with 3D as it has started to become a hindrance rather than a benefit and directors have started to rely on the format a little too mush which means stories suffer.
the internet will end cinema as we know it.
As DVD sales drop due to the rise in downloads and streaming I have to wonder how long before the whole process will be an online entity.
How long will it be before studios skip cinema releases and push new releases straight to download. While I do not believe cinemas will end I do think they will suffer in a major way.
In truth the internet has both good and bad points when it comes to selling any film. With big releases you often find things being leaked online be it either behind the scenes peeks at things that are under wraps or even movies being leaked in their entirity. In 2009 a pre vfx version of Hugh Jackmans "Wolverine" was leaked online. These leaks can lead to plot twists etc being disclosed and ruining a films cinematic release.
With the advent of streaming and companies like Netflix and Amazon prime films and TV shows are far easier to come by now online. Slowly taking almost all home entertainment online and ruling out the need for DVD etc. As a studio you have to think selling new releases like this can be beneficial as it would help them retain a larger profit margin as ease of access and the comfort of home offers a more comforting prospect to film viewers.
But what would happen to cinema should studios opt to go online? Movies and cinema is a visual medium made to transport viewers into the story they are watching and cinema is there as an experience. Witnessing dinosaurs on the big screen in Jurassic park or witnessing a dramatic emotional story like The Revenant film is an emotional rollercoaster that no other medium can offer.
My hope is that movies and specially new releases will remain where they should, on the big screen.
By the end of the film "Spectre" there was rumors drifting around that it might have been the last time we saw Daniel Craig as the worlds most famous on screen spy.
Craig was the man tasked with reinventing 007 in the 2006 "Casino Royale" adaption. This new invention of Bond offered a more gritty version to match up to the changing world. 2012 "Skyfall" which Craig starred for director Sam Mendes still remains the marquee film in this new wave of 007.
As Craig's 007 is possibly ending the question remains where next with the legendary spy?
Bond remains one of the most important and legendary characters in cinema history and after the succesful reinvention of him with Daniel Craig staring in 2006 with "Casino Royale" up to 2015 "Spectre" (possibly Craigs last run out), is it time to try something new with the character.
When the Casino Royale adaption was being floated about and before Craig came along there were a number of stories floating around. Possibly the most interesting would have seen Quentin Tarantino directing Pierce Brosnan as 007 in a book adaption of Casino Royale. This, as anyone who knows Trantinos work, would have been as far away from a normal Bond film as could possibly be. As expected the studio nervous of Tarantinos previous work instead opted for director Martin Campbell and Daniel Craig and rebooted Bond to the post 'Jason Bourne' style of grittier thriller.
Now who should take the mantle of 007 from Craig. This has become a very interesting debate, as various possibilities has been mentioned. Idris Elba seems to have come out as the favourite which would create a very different feel character wise both in the obvious racial aspect and most of all as an emotional performance. Elba is a talent at the top of his game at the minute both creativly and phsyically, just watch his Discovery series "The Fighter", and also after his acclaimed performance as Nelson Mandela, people are now realising just how talented he really is.
Other names have been mentioned actors like Tom Hiddleston even "Billy Elliot" star Jamie Bell. There have even been rumblings that Bond may even be female in future films (Rosamund Pike has to be the only choice should this happen).
I have to hope that the studio go brave this time and go completly off the norm and opt for a revamped Bond, I see James Mcavoy as a very interesting choice and also Luke Evans as these guys are accomplished actors that would bring a new gravitas to the character.
As it continues to look more and more likely that the role may go to Elba I do feel happy in the knowledge that the character is in safe hands.
Until the I hope we get one more from Craig, the sendoff he deserves.