Classic multilingual adventure with most of the dialogue in Spanish, French & Italian, with the odd sentence or two in English.
The first hour drags a little, building character and suspense for what lies ahead.
The story concerns a group of Europeans in a small South American village, unemployed after building works ceased. With no money to return home, they accept a job transporting a cargo of nitroglycerin across a trecherous mountain route where hazards impede their progress at every turn, with some genuine, nail-biting moments of tension.
Director Henri-Georges Clouzet has often been referred to as the French Alfred Hitchcock. I've only seen two of his movies (this and Les Diaboliques) but on that evidence alone I can understand why.
Remade in 1977 as Sorceror, the remake isn't anywhere near as powerful as this masterpiece of world cinema.
Weird animated feature which uses rotoscope techniques and is pretty much a host of characters having philosophical discussions about what dreams are.
It's either going to be your thing or it isn't. I personally found it all rather pretentious.
Like most Hollywood biopics, it waters down the life of a mercurial character and seems to miss a great deal out, but it manages to capture a good bulk of the real life events, beginning with his fractured relationship with his father and his failings as the lead of a gospel band to his breakthrough and legendary gig at Folsom Prison, while the performances of Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon as Johnny Cash and June Carter make it riveting viewing with a practical masterclass in on-screen chemistry. The singing is pretty great too.
An ambitious financial broker is torn between family and money after he becomes the young protégé of a successful, but morally abhorrent Wall Street banker.
One of the better Yuppie-culture films of the late 80's. Michael Douglas delivers the performance of his career as ruthless arbiter Gordon Gecko (think of an evil Jerry Maguire). Charlie Sheen is also very good, but Daryl Hannah's performance is rather poor.
Director Oliver Stone doesn't shirk with his documentary-esque portrayal of life in the big city, though, aside from Michael Douglas' iconic performance, the film itself isn't quite memorable enough to be considered amongst the filmmaker's best works.
Less a sequel, more a remake, with Michael Douglas one again reprising the role of corrupt Wall Street banker, Gordon Gekko and Shia LaBeouf steps into the shoes vacated by Charlie Sheen. The only other difference is the volume of currency, adjusted by inflation. Like the first film, Douglas' enigmatically calculating performance makes it watchable, but there's little else to write home about.
Surely summer blockbusters haven't become so bad that this excuse for action entertainment passes for one? If so, Hollywood needs to stop counting their pennies and really start putting some effort in, rather than regurgitating and recycling stuff from other movies with an added dash of nonsense... This Matrix-meets-Fight Club clone sees a white collar bureaucrat with a meaningless and pointless life on a quest for the truth of his existence, the truth being that he is destined to be a member of a secret fraternity of assassins that has existed since the dawn of mankind... James McAvoy annoyingly screams through the first 45 minutes while Angelina Jolie struts around like a whore... The action scenes expect us to completely ignore the rules of physics. Even disengaging the brain it's all a little bit insulting, the biggest caketake of all being that the fraternity's chosen targets are deciphered from a 'loom of fate', after initial hesitancy our 'hero' actually starts to enjoy killing people simply because a mystical sewing machine needs to keep the universe in perfect balance, regardless of the questionable innocence or guilt of those who need to be offed in order to keep the scales in tick...
This movie rather unashamedly and irresponsibly glamourises gun violence! It's little wonder gun crime has rocketed on the world's street when youthful, impressionable teens have this for entertainment to inspire them. Even attempts at comedy seemed like they were missing a sitcom style laughter track, particularly during a scene where an ATM calls our hero an asshole! If the Hollywood barrel has to steal jokes from Stephen King's awful 'Maximum Overdrive', we really are in a dire state of affairs.
Two requests: #1. Mr Morgan Freeman, please fire your agent post haste! #2. Timur Bekmambetov, please do not direct another film as long as you live!
WAR DOGS (15)
D: Todd Phillips
Warner Bros/Joint Effort (Mark Gordon, Todd Phillips & Bradley Cooper)
W: Stephen Chin, Jason Smilovic & Todd Phillips [based on the article "Arms & The Dudes" by Guy Lawson]
DP: Lawrence Sher
Ed: Jeff Groth
Mus: Cliff Martinez
Miles Teller (David Packouz), Jonah Hill (Efraim Diveroli), Bradley Cooper (Henry Girard), Kevin Pollak (Ralph Slutzky), Ana de Armas (Liz), Shaun Toub (Marlboro)
The Wolf Of Wall Street meets Lord Of War for this fact-based satire following the story of two young entrepreneurs who tried to turn a profit selling weapons to the US armed forces stationed in Iraq, cutting corners, exploiting loopholes and even bending the law to their own means in their quest for more dollars.
Based on an article published in Rolling Stones magazine, the film does seem tailored especially for its leading double act of Miles Tiller and Jonah Hill, both of whom deliver good performances.
A good watch, but it lacks any real fireworks.
WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES (12)
D: Matt Reeves
20th Century Fox/TSG (Peter Chernin, Dylan Clark, Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver)
W: Mark Bomback & Matt Reeves [based on characters created by Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver]
DP: Michael Seresin
Ed: William Hoy & Stan Salfas
Mus: Michael Giacchino
Andy Serkis (Caesar), Woody Harrelson (The Colonel), Steve Zahn (Bad Ape), Karin Konoval (Maurice), Terry Notary (Rocket), Ty Olsson (Red), Amiah Miller (Nova)
The third film of Planet Of The Apes prequel series, following Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes and Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes ties events even closer to the original 1968 movie (or the 2001 remake, if you wish).
War between ape and man has raged on for years, and the last human survivors hunt for Caesar, the leader of his tribe, who would much rather have peace, but not at the expense of his species.
Woody Harrelson plays a psychotic army Colonel who locates the tribe and imprisons them in a concentration camp, where their slave labour assists with the building of a huge wall which is planned to keep out a human contingent which the Colonel fears are against him and his plans.
The plot has rather unsubtle parallels with real events from the Second World War which don't work as well as they could, but the film does manage to stay both entertaining and enjoyable, helped with amazing visual effects which are even better than the two preceding films.
Though it's a motion capture performance, Andy Serkis truly does a brilliant job in the lead performance, and you'd be forgiven in thinking that it was a real chimpanzee delivering such realistic work.
A rather pointless sequel to a film which didn't need one. Filmed mostly in Canada with a next-to-nothing budget and snatching plotlines from the Stargate: Universe pilot & Bourne movies. Still, it could have been much worse... With any bigger a budget the casting of the lead role could have gone to Ashton Kutcher!
Definitely one to ignore.
A unique twist on the zombie genre which recently has become rather stale with most movies simply opting to copy the formula George Romero laid down with his Night Of The Living Dead movies.
This movie is told from a zombie point of view and instead of depicting people turning into zombies, it had zombies turning into people. Nicholas Hoult plays one of the undead who still has emotions and thoughts he struggles to express, he can't even remember his own name, only that it begins with an R, and all he craves is companionship. On a routine flesh hunt, he kidnaps Julie and takes her back to his home (an aeroplane filled with clutter) where he begins to feel again and starts to remember what it's like to be human.
The movie completely tears up the rule book on what a zombie actually is, but I can forgive this transgression because it works very well. There's many references to Romeo & Juliet as well which are clever in parts but a little TOO obvious in others.
Nicholas Hoult does a good job as R but more inpressive is Teresa Palmer as Julie, a role which could easily have gone to zombie Kristen Stewart, which would have made this movie truly ghastly.
MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) is a sport which has increased hugely in popularity over the decade building up to 2011, and Warrior does a fantastic job in capturing why the sport has become so popular.
Meatier than recent great fighting films like The Wrestler & The Fighter, it showcases brains, brawn and heart as well as tremendous performances, especially from Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton & Nick Nolte.
The story is a rather simple one, with two men from different sides of the tracks participating in a ultimate fighting tournament, both for very different reasons. One is a brute of a man, whose key strategy is to simply beat all and sundry, whilst the other has a more technical approach, utilising skills from a variety of martial art styles.
Tom Hardy's is easily the most interesting character in the film, a storm of rage with a rock-hard shell, though morally good on the very inside. It's a strange performance, as it's quite difficult to sympathise with his character during the film's opening act, but he made a good ying to Joel Edgerton's yang, and as the climax approaches, it's virtually impossible to choose a side.
This isn't a black mark against the film though, it's a fantastic sports drama which wrestles every single emotion into submission.
A group of students visit a waxworks exhibit inside a creepy old house, where the exhibitions seem to come to life.
Cheesy 1980's remake of Mystery of the Wax Museum. It's more a camp homage to monster movies than anything else. It's crap, but fun, and better than 2005's House Of Wax, at least in a cheesy 80's way.
A much poorer sequel followed in 1991 (Waxwork II: Lost In Time).
WAY OUT WEST (U)
D: James W. Horne
MGM/Hal Roach (Stan Laurel)
W: Jack Jevne, Charles Rogers, James Parrott & Felix Adler
DP: Art Lloyd & Walter Lundin
Ed: Bert Jordan
Mus: Marvin Hatley
Stan Laurel (Stan), Oliver Hardy (Oliver), James Finlayson (Mickey Finn), Sharon Lynne (Lola Marcel), Rosina Lawrence (Mary Roberts)
Quite possibly Laurel & Hardy's most well known feature, starring the hapless duo as their usual selves, travelling to the small town of Brushwood Gulch to deliver a gold mine deed to a young woman, only to fall foul of an unscrupulous bar owner and his gold digging wife.
The film features two of Laurel & Hardy's better known musical routines and the slapstick humour is brilliantly timed.
Worth watching, even if you're not a huge fan of the comedy partners.
THE WAY BACK (12)
D: Peter Weir
Newmarket/National Geographic/Spitfire/Imagenation Abu Dhabi (Peter Weir, Joni Levin, Duncan Henderson, Nigel Sinclair & Scott Rudin)
W: Peter Weir & Keith Clarke [based on the book "The Long Walk" by Sławomir Rawicz]
DP: Russell Boyd
Ed: Lee Smith
Mus: Burkhard Dallwitz
Jim Sturgess (Janusz Wieszczek), Ed Harris (Mr. Smith), Colin Farrell (Valka), Saoirse Ronan (Irena Zielinska), Dragos Bucur (Zoran)
The Way Back is a breathtaking survivalist tale, inspired by the true events detailed in Slawomir Rawicz's book 'The Long Walk', where a group of Polish and Russian refugees escaped from a Siberian POW camp and embarked on a 4,000 mile walk to freedom in India.
Some of the story has been given the Hollywood treatment, but it is mostly kept low-key and brutally realistic by Peter Weir's direction.
One tiny gripe is that the film opens with captions stating that the film details the true story of three men who survived the journey, which takes away some of the tension as their plight becomes more and more desperate.
The film received a sole Oscar nomination (for makeup), and arguably deserved a lot more recognition.
Not to be confused with "The Way Way Back" (see below)
This is quite easily the feelgood movie of 2013.
Duncan, a shy teenage boy, goes on summer holiday with his mother (Toni Colette) and her complete dick of a boyfriend (Steve Carell).
In the small summer town, there isn't much to do and Duncan gets a job at the local water park, unbeknownst to his mum, and strikes up a rewarding friendship with the park's extroverted manager (a scene-stealing Sam Rockwell).
Originally, the movie was intended to be set in the 1980's, but budgetary constraints forced the filmmakers to change it to present day. The story still has a nostalgic force behind it, with reminiscing memories of a favourite holiday, a first crush and a job you loved doing.
All the performances are fantastic, especially Sam Rockwell, who delivers a vibrant, zesty performance as Owen, possibly my favourite supporting character of 2013. Those expecting the Steve Carell from Anchorman, The 40 Year Old Virgin, et al, may be disappointed with his performance in this. He's a complete tool.
The title refers to the (hidden) seat at the rear of the car, where Duncan often finds himself during journeys.
Do yourself a favour and give this movie a watch on a day when you're feeling down.
WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN (15)
D: Lynne Ramsay
BBC/UK Film Council (Jennifer Fox, Luc Roeg & Bob Salerno)
W: Lynne Ramsay & Rory Stewart Kinnear [based on the novel by Lionel Shriver]
DP: Seamus McGarvey
Ed: Joe Bini
Mus: Jonny Greenwood
Tilda Swinton (Eva Khatchadourian), John C. Reilly (Franklin Plaskett), Ezra Miller (Kevin Khatchadourian), Ashley Gerasimovich (Celia Khatchadourian)
Lynne Ramsay employs a non-linear approach to this domestic psychological thriller, adapted from Lionel Shriver's novel about a mother's relationship with her son, whose behaviour becomes more and more unusual until he commits a crime which literally tear the family apart.
Tilda Swinton is excellent in the principal role as the mother Eva Khatchadourian, whilst Ezra Miller has a brilliantly malevolent presence as the troubled title character.
The filmmaking style won't be for everyone's palate, but it's still a worthwhile watch for those who like something a little different from the norm.
The most enjoyable moments come in the scenes Cage shares with Michael Caine, but aside from this it's all a bit of a mess. Cage tries to balance his role between morose and self-effacing, but his character is hugely pathetic for much of the running time. Overall, the forecast is rather gloomy.
WELCOME TO MARWEN (12)
D: Robert Zemeckis
Universal/Dreamworks/Perfect World/Imagemovers (Robert Zemeckis, Steve Starkey & Jack Rapke)
W: Caroline Thompson & Robert Zemeckis
DP: C. Kim Miles
Ed: Jeremiah O'Driscoll
Mus: Alan Silvestri
Steve Carell (Mark Hogancamp), Leslie Mann (Nicol), Merritt Weaver (Roberta), Diane Kruger (Deja Thoris), Janelle Monae (Julie)
Welcome To Marwen received some harsh criticism upon its release, and while it isn't a great film, it's something which I would consider as a noble failure. Mostly because it takes serious subject matter and presents it in an inventive way, and Robert Zemeckis has never been a colour-by-numbers director, frequently directing with a novel approach to material.
That being said, this is still (probably) Zemeckis' weakest film, taking its basis from a documentary called Marwencol (also called Village of the Dolls in the U.K.) and the true story of Mark Hogancamp, an artist who suffered great mental trauma following an assault, leaving him without memory and unable to continue his desired profession. However, he overcame this by creating a model village of a Belgian town during wartime, using dolls as representations of himself & people in his life, which he would photograph for exhibition.
The film juxtaposes his real-life struggles with the fantasy element which takes place in the WWII town. and from a technical point of view, the film is incredibly well made. Unfortunately, it's thematically where the film struggles. As a drama it's far too goofy, as a comedy it's too serious, as a fantasy it's too grounded, and as a wartime adventure it's too depressing... and the plot is pretty much Steve Carell playing with dolls. Still, I'm quite forgiving since it did make me think about it a while after the end credits rolled, and was quite a difficult film to review due to this.
Personally, I'd much rather see a brave attempt from a famous director and a big studio than a play-it-safe movie aimed at the lowest common denomination of moviegoer.
WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS (12)
D: Tom Vaughan
20th Century Fox/Regency/21 Laps/Mosaic Media/Dune/Penn Station (Michael Aguilar, Shawn Levy & Jimmy Miller)
W: Dana Fox
DP: Matthew F. Leonetti
Ed: Matt Friedman
Mus: Christophe Beck
Cameron Diaz (Joy McNally), Ashton Kutcher (Jack Fuller), Rob Corddry (Jeffrey Lewis), Lake Bell (Toni Saxson), Dennis Farina (Richard Banger)
Modern comedy usually means that a film has more production companies involved in its making than it does jokes. This is certainly the case with this insipid rom-com starring Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher as a pair of thoroughly unlikable characters, Jack and Joy.
During a drunken night in Las Vegas, the pair get married and instantly regret it the next day, but when Jack wins big on the slots, Joy wants a cut of the share because that's the sort of person she is, and the couple have to stay married because a judge read the script to the movie and if he annulled their union then the film would have only been half an hour long. Personally, I wouldn't have found that a problem.
The film gets its title from the phrase "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas." It should have stayed there, preferably unseen in a casino vault, where it should have rotted away over time.
WHEN MARNIE WAS THERE (OMOIDE NO MĀNĪ) (PG)
D: Hiromasa Yonebayashi
Toho/Studio Ghibli (Yoshiaki Nishimura)
W: Masashi Andō, Keiko Niwa & Hiromasa Yonebayashi [based on the book by Joan G. Robinson]
Mus: Takatsugu Muramatsu
Sara Takatsuki / Hailee Steinfeld (Anna Sasaki), Kasumi Arimura / Kiernan Shipka (Marnie), Hans Sugisaki / Ava Acres (Sayaka), Hitomi Kuroki / Vanessa Williams (Hisako)
Studio Ghibli's first feature following the retirement of Hayao Miyazaki is this tender dramatic piece based on the book by Joan G. Robinson.
The story concerns Anna Sasaki, an introverted 12-year-old girl living with her relatives in Sapporo. She becomes more and more withdrawn from her family and begins spending more time with Marnie, a mysterious girl who she shares secrets with. The relationship between the two ultimately helps Anna learn the truth about herself and her parents.
Though an animated film, like all Studio Ghibli releases, it's best appreciated by maturer children and adults, rather than anyone below teenage years. The animation is of the usual high standard you'd expect from the studio and the music score is hauntingly evocative. The film's most powerful asset however is the story, which will come as a comfort to many viewers who sympathise and connect with Anna's character.
Along with the same year's Olympus Has Fallen (qv), it's a Die Hard in the White House action movie with the US president being protected by a sole Secret Service Agent vs several bad guys.
Both movies are as bad (or good ) as each other in all honesty, but this one wins points for having a more flamboyant double act in the form of Channing Tatum & Jamie Foxx rather than Gerard Butler & Aaron Eckhart (who are both given poorly structured and underwritten characters in Olympus Has Fallen). Still, this action movie subgenre was done to death in the 1990's so, no matter the setting, it still feels incredibly stale nowadays.
There are some huge irritants in this film, especially Roland Emmerich making smug references to his previous movies and all the ridiculous product placement (Jamie Foxx's US president wearing Nike Air Jordans. Really.)
It's one of them films where it's best to remove your brain before watching (or at least have lots of beer at the ready).
D: Steve McQueen
20th Century Fox/Film4/Regency/See Saw (Steve McQueen, Iain Canning, Emile Sherman & Arnon Milchan)
W: Steve McQueen & Gillian Flynn [based on the mini series and novel by Lynda La Plante]
DP: Sean Bobbitt
Ed: Joe Walker
Mus: Hans Zimmer
PD: Adam Stockhausen
Cos: Jenny Eagan
Viola Davis (Veronica Rawlins), Michelle Rodriguez (Linda Perelli), Elizabeth Debicki (Alice Gunner), Cynthia Erivo (Belle), Colin Farrell (Jack Mulligan), Brian Tyree Henry (Jamal Manning), Daniel Kaluuya (Jatemme Manning), Jacki Weaver (Agnieska), Carrie Coon (Amanda), Robert Duvall (Tom Mulligan), Liam Neeson (Harry Rawlins)
This intricately weaved heist drama was originally screened as a two-part six-episode TV mini series penned by crime writer Lynda La Plante in the mid-1980's and subsequently released as a novel.
This 2018 modernisation uproots the story from London to Chicago, starring Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez and Elizabeth Debicki as the recently widowed wives of three professional criminals who perish following a bungled robbery in the film's opening scenes.
Colin Farrell and Brian Tyree Henry also star as a pair of rival politicians both campaigning for an upcoming election and both equally crooked. It emerges that the robbery has directly affected both of them, especially Jamal Manning (Henry) whose campaign money was stolen in the bungled heist.
He pays a visit to Veronica Rawlins, the widow of head thief Harry, threatening violence if $2 million isn't returned to him within a month... and it soon proves that he or his brother (a brilliant Daniel Kaluuya) are not to be trifled with.
Veronica is left Harry's notebook, detailing plans for his next heist, and she enlists the help of the other two women, both suffering financial hardship, in order to pull off the robbery.
The plot is very multi-layered and is only a heist film on the very face of it. Several other themes are also explored, such as the rich-poor divide in modern society and politicians & criminals being equally dishonest. The entire ensemble cast are excellent and every single character is fully fleshed out with an interesting history. Viola Davis may lead the cast, but other performances deserve to be equally lauded, particularly Elizabeth Debicki and Daniel Kaluuya (for me, his career best performance) and it's quite brilliantly directed by Steve McQueen. On the negative side, a few loose ends are left at the end, but they aren't especially bothersome and there are a few scenes which could have been snipped down for pacing reasons, but again, considering this was adapted from a 12-part serial, the filmmakers did a sterling job.
A certain inclusion in my Top 10 Movies of 2018.
WIND RIVER (15)
D: Taylor Sheridan
TWC/Acacia/Film 44/Thunder Road/Savvy Media Holdings (Matthew George, Basil Iwanyk, Peter Berg & Wayne L. Rogers)
W: Taylor Sheridan
DP: Ben Richardson
Ed: Gary D. Roach
Mus: Nick Cave & Warren Ellis
Jeremy Renner (Cory Lambert), Elizabeth Olsen (Jane Banner), Gil Birmingham (Martin Hansen), Jon Bernthal (Matt Rayburn), Julia Jones (Wilma), Graham Greene (Ben), Kelsey Chow (Natalie Hansen)
Screenwriter Taylor Sheridan, whose writing credits include the excellent Sicario and Hell Or High Water, makes his directorial debut with this impressive thriller set in the bleak, wintry state of Wyoming.
The story takes place on an Native American reservation, where Wildlife Service Agent Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner) discovers a corpse of a woman, who appears to have been raped and murdered. Rookie FBI agent Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen) investigates the crime, but her hands are tied since it falls under the jurisdiction of tribal police, and without absolute proof that a murder took place, she is unable to take authority. She enlists Lambert's help, and he volunteers his services freely since it gives him a chance to redeem himself following the death of his daughter, who died under similar circumstances.
The film does start rather slowly, but following the static opening it settles into a flowing pace, helped by excellent performances by the two leads, particularly Elizabeth Olsen, and some wonderful photography of the great outdoors by cinematographer Ben Richardson.
Sheridan's films where he took writing credit didn't fail to impress, and neither does his solid directorial debut.
This is quite easily one of my favourite films of 2017.
THE WITCH (THE VVITCH) (15)
D: Robert Eggers
A24/Parts & Labor/RT/Rooks Nest/Maiden Voyage/Mott Street/Code Red/Scythia/Pulse/Special Projects (Rodrigo Teixeira, Daniel Bekerman, Lars Knudsen, Jodi Redmond & Jay Van Hoy)
W: Robert Eggers
DP: Jarin Blaschke
Ed: Louise Ford
Mus: Mark Korven
Anya Taylor-Joy (Thomasin), Ralph Ineson (William), Kate Dickie (Katherine), Harvey Scrimshaw (Caleb), Ellie Grainger (Mercy), Lucas Dawson (Jonas)
I believe that the golden rule for horror movies is that "less is more". Unfortunately, most modern horror films tend to ignore this rule in favour of jump scare/gore porn rubbish.
The Witch bucks the current trend in favour of an approach to its material that focuses on mystery, intrigue and suggestion.
Set in 17th Century New England, a family are exiled from their community over a religious dispute and subsequently build a farm on the edge of a secluded forest. One of the family's children is abducted by the unknown and Thomasin, the eldest daughter, is blamed for the disappearance.
The family attempt to come to terms with their loss as they struggle to thrive away from their community as the young twins accuse Thomasin of witchcraft when an illness strikes Caleb, the eldest son of the family.
Writer-director Robert Eggers crafts his movie impressively with an air of arthouse in his approach to the material, helped by good performances from the cast.
It's unfortunate that it probably won't be appreciated by the mainstream, since it's a horror movie you don't have to disengage your brain for.