Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019): Review by Grosse Point Geek

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019): Review by Grosse Point Geek

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Plot in a nutshell: Special Agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and former SAS Operative Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) are reluctantly forced to team up with Shaw’s sister (Vanessa Kirby) who also happens to be a rogue MI6 agent and go after a genetically and technologically enhanced terrorist (Idris Elba) who is hell bent on releasing a virus that will wipe out most of humanity.

 

 

What worked: Being honest  – pretty much all of it. Johnson and Statham make a great double act and bounce off each other very well, both delivering some great one liners and trading  alot of extremely funny insults. However its Vanessa Kirby who really shines , displaying bucket loads of charisma, out acting both her hulking male co stars, and  more than holding her own in all the action scenes. In addition, despite being too good for a film like this Idris Elba is excellent as the principle baddie.

 

 

Speaking of action this film doesnt disappoint – and its virtually non stop from the get go – theres a great car/motorbike chase early on, a preposterous but extremely well handled set piece in Russia which involves enormous explosions, masses of gunfire and more than just a bit of bone crushing fisticuffs. However the best is left to last when Johnson, Kirby and Statham enlist the help of Hobbs hard as nails Samoan family for a bonkers final 20 minutes that really has to be seen to be believed.

 

 

What could have been better: Its very hard to criticize a film as mad as this – admittedly its a bit long, some of the one liners dont always land, and a theres a gratuitous Kevin Hart cameo about an hour in that didnt really work at all.

 

 

Review Summary: A great big utterly mental popcorn blockbuster, jam packed with action, pickled with funny one liners and featuring some great chemistry from its three central leads.

 

 

I loved it – Great fun

 

Author: Will Strong aka Grosse Point Geek 

 


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The Lion King (2019): Review by Grosse Point Geek

The Lion King (2019): Review by Grosse Point Geek

A Blog Grosse Point Geek The Blogs

After his father King Mufasa (James Earl Jones) is murdered by evil Uncle Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor), young Prince Simba is banished from the Pridelands and is presumed dead by the rest of his family. Years later, a chance encounter with an old friend forces the now adult Simba (Donald Glover) to make a choice  – stay in exile or face his destiny and challenge Scar for the throne.


What worked: 

The photo realistic animation used to bring the animals and the varying African landscapes to life  is frankly astounding  – so good in fact that you will actually think what you are watching is totally real and not animated. The voice cast are also very good and the songs are still as wonderful as the 1994 original.


What didnt work:

 As amazing as the animation is it has two major problems – and that is as we all know in real life animals dont express a vast range of facial emotions  – and this is what happens here – meaning that you are left a bit cold as the characters faces dont express the same levels of emotions as the ones in the original version also and very tellingly it just didn’t look or feel right when they talked – see it for yourself and you will know what i mean. In addition it isnt nearly as downright hilarious as the 1994 version, yes Timon and Pumbaa (voiced by Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen) still steal the show but simply can’t match the utter lunacy that Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella brought to the characters in the original film. 

 

Finally one has to say that its all very well having brilliant photo realistic effects but unlike The Jungle Book remake and to a certain extent this years Tim Burton directed Dumbo update, when you break it down the Lion King 2019 brings absolutely nothing new to the party and at its heart is little more than a shot for shot, line for line recycled copy of what was and remains to be one of the greatest animated films of all time. Therefore if you look it it that way this means that one must view this film very cynically  – as all its purpose seems to be is to show off some fancy SFX, and make lots of money for Disney. 


Review summary: Never less than enjoyable and the animation is the best you will ever see  – but there is not one scrap of originality on show here.

 

Author: Will Strong aka Grosse Point Geek 

 

 

 


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Booksmart (2019): Review by Motion Picture Maniac

Booksmart (2019): Review by Motion Picture Maniac

A Blog Motion Picture Maniac

I haven’t laughed this hard or this consistently at a comedy in a very long time. Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut is a mercilessly funny, ultra fast moving and pleasantly charming little film that maybe does have some visible first-time-director scars but who cares? It’s a film I had no idea I needed in my life.

Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein play two long time high school friends (with more chemistry than a science lab might I add), who have pretty much spent the entirety of their high school days working the books into oblivion instead of ever just having typical teenage fun for once. With one more day to go before they cap it all off with graduation they make the horrific discovery that all the inferior dumbasses, who did nothing but party their youth away, also (somehow) got into prestigious schools and achieved high marks in spite of seemingly not giving a shit.

Feldstein has something that resembles an internal psychotic breakdown and declares that the two of them must compact all the years of missed out fun into a single night – tonight! Thus ensues the type of carnage you might expect. What sets Booksmart aside from your average cheap comedy is many fold, it’s actually very funny for one thing; the jokes work hard to cover a rather wide spectrum, they range from subtle to the bombastic, the delightful to the gross and disturbing. These two friends have been so for long enough that they know some seriously messed up stuff about each other you’d usually want to keep to yourself, I won’t get into specifics but I was nearly crying and who knew cringing could be a good thing?

It also helps that the performances on display are genuinely great, how often does that happen in a movie like this? Great actors playing actual thought out characters, colour me impressed as I even started to find them relatable before long. They have little code words between them that the film never feels the unnecessary need to explain and the way they sadistically tease each other brings relentless laughs. I think I liked Dever’s character best, while Feldstein was certainly a riot, Dever’s Amy had some interesting story going on that I couldn’t help but find really sweet and huggable. Other side characters also have their little motifs and it’s probably them whom people will remember most fondly.

Strangely enough the film also manages to do something I usually can’t stand in comedies – it gets serious for a minute, but I think Booksmart gets away with it because, unlike those other movies, I actually was invested in the characters and their little journey so when things actually started getting emotional I legit cared very much. The filmmakers even try their luck at riffing on teen-party-high school movie cliches which can be very risky, I mean how many times have we seen someone accidentally take drugs and start tripping out like David Cronenberg’s worst fever dream? Fortunately, I think, they pulled it off, it did catch me off guard for a second there but they keep the original laughs coming so well that I ended up not caring; in fact I’d say bravo.

Even Olivia Wilde’s description of the film: “the training day of high school movies” makes me laugh. I laughed here, I laughed there, just laughs everywhere! The pacing is as comfortable as sleeping in on a teacher’s training day while your younger sibling gets no such luxury, the characters are likeable, relatable and I wish I knew them in reality, the film is intelligent, unashamed, tastefully tasteless and I really had fun with it. I’ve heard a lot of people make Superbad comparisons which are true I guess, there’s even one joke that is ripped straight out of Superbad but it doesn’t matter, this is a great film, always room for some technical improvement but I care about that less and less the more I think about it.

 


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A Defence of Game of Thrones Series 8 : Motion Picture Maniac

A Defence of Game of Thrones Series 8 : Motion Picture Maniac

A Blog Motion Picture Maniac

So I suppose there’s one or two things I should quickly start with: yes I rather liked the not-so-popular season 8 of Game of Thrones, yes I liked it enough to feel like writing a defence and while I do agree that certain elements in the finale did feel somewhat rushed, my overall emotional and cathartic response was never sullied by any timing issues that, for some people, apparently disregard any and all quality the show presented in its previous seven seasons. That and every criticism and comment I touch upon here is something I actually discovered online, not stuff i’ve made up to justify anger at those with an opposing opinion to mine, I like to believe I’m a logical person, and it can be the easiest thing in the world to deduce what a person is getting at with an internet comment they leave lying amongst the context of thousands of others.

Got that?

Was there ever any doubt that the finale to a show like Game of Thrones wasn’t going to please everyone? In fact I’d say a turnout like that seems like the most obvious way for reality to go about it, just think of what the world of entertainment criticism is at the moment. Governed by whatever the Joneses are saying on social media, I mean are you telling me there’s nothing suspicious about people very casually dropping “oh, it’s shit” comments everywhere without any kind of explanation as to why, or hint of legitimate disappointment in sight?

That’s something that bugs me, amidst all this screaming and crying, refusing to eat what you’ve been given malarkey, no one actually seems “disappointed” by the prospect of the final season being… well, a disappointment. There’s too much fun being had and too little explanation as to why this is now the status quo outside of “well, that’s what everyone else is saying”. If you think I’m wrong about that then let me ask you this: why is no one talking about Cleganebowl? Why is no one talking about Tyrion’s tearful final scene with Jamie? Why is no one talking about the fan theories that actually did come true that people hoped would? I’ll tell you why, because that would mean saying something nice about “the worst GOT ever” and doing that does extinguishes fire rather than add fuel. I wonder if it’s even real fans doing the complaining because there seems to be a much bigger concern with being relevant on Facebook and Twitter and joining the determined conversation than trying to delve into the why of all this.

“Season 8 sucks! Just making sure everyone knows that’s what I think, just throwing that out there. See, I’m relevant now, I’m part of the cool gang”.

The point the criticisms all seem to come back to is Dany’s burning down of King’s Landing, you know, that place populated with all those idiots who cheered on Ned Stark’s execution. The explanation (holy shit, a criticism with an explanation for once) being that she makes up her mind to commit mass murder too quickly and therefor against who she is as a character. I disagree, aside from there having been red flags galore that something like this was coming the whole show, there’s a lot of stuff that goes down not long before the massacre that, I thought, made it totally plausible, I’m not fanboying, if that’s what I think then what am I supposed to do, pretend it isn’t so I fit in? If only everyone could stop pretending to be so impressive with how much they know about filmmaking and take their critic caps off for five seconds, wouldn’t that be the day?

Think about it, her beloved John – more in line for the throne than she is, that’s a slap in the ambitious little face, his family – don’t like her, could they potentially be traitors? Tyrion and Varys, two advisors to “keep her worst impulses in check” either fail her too many times or flat out do try and betray her, Cersei – because of her, two of her dragons are now dead, one died bringing the stubborn Cersei proof that white walkers exist, the other she had killed outright, she’s even the one responsible for this battle starting by killing Missandei, and then she has the balls to just surrender? And let’s not forget the knowledge that years of Targaryen incest have rendered her not right in the head, just like her father. Considering all of those things I’d say it makes sense for her to lose her shit and go crazy, trust was betrayed too many times, I certainly wouldn’t trust Cersei with mercy if I gave it to her.

I get that’s just what I think but why is it more fun complaining about something than just relaxing and allowing yourself to enjoy it? That’s not the same as saying you’ll enjoy it if you force yourself to, but everyone doing the complaining seem like they’re going out of their way to make sure of it? If you think I’m wrong about that then consider how the complaining didn’t stop at just this one mistake, it wasn’t enough to justify the level of anger so you gotta branch out I guess. This single occurrence in a 70 minute episode, one of 73, suddenly defines ALL of the writing in the entire show as “shit” for some reason. “Yeah Benioff and Weiss have been great so far but a character made a decision too quickly so they are, by definition, overall shit writers now”. That’s just over zealous internet baby screaming and I can’t take it seriously at all; it’s illegitimate.

I’m reminded of a rather random comparison – The Santa Claus 2 (of all things):

“Our number 2 elf overlooked the SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT DETAIL IN THE HISTORY OF CHRISTMAS!” – “wow, one mistake in 900 years”.

Do you see what I’m getting at?

Even though some people did have their issues with seasons 5 and 7 (issues amplified by their dislike of 8) I don’t recall anyone losing their minds and declaring them to be the shittest thing anyone has ever made (because isn’t everything nowadays with a little bit of hype that’s not a billion % perfect?), but make what many consider a serious error in the penultimate episode and SUDDENLY you’re a shit writer, you deserve to die and no amount of great things you’ve done in the last 8 years up until this point matter anymore. There was recently an interesting Twitter thread that detailed how George R R Martin and the show’s writing team just have fundamentally different methods when it comes to plot progression, and that the seasons written without books to follow aren’t shit but simply feel different. The best some dickhead could come up with in response to this thread was a simple “nah, they’re just shit writers”.

Are you kidding me? Right there I knew it, this has nothing to do with legitimate feelings about the conclusion of a tv show, it’s playground bitching for the sake of it, to, like I keep saying, join in the conversation on the web; some people’s new definition of the real world. I bet you this person absolutely loved all other seasons prior to 8, or rather – the backlash to 8 so you know what side of the argument to be on. Anything interesting or logical in that thread was just thrown out of the window in favour of having a blame figure to exercise aggression on, aside from not agreeing with them these criticisms just come across as too sadistic to be taken seriously, I even have my doubts some of these people dropping the odd “season 8 sucks” comment here and there have even watched it.

This has been the case with a lot of entertainment criticism this past generation, the once noble profession of film or television criticism has been degenerated to mindless screaming on the internet because, apparently, every likes to prove just how much more than filmmakers they know about the craft and it’s getting really annoying. Especially with the existence of favourite targets, filmmakers who could say something as simple as “good morning” online and someone just has to announce why they’re a terrible person for doing so. Then there are the films that make the same mistakes as critical flops that don’t even get half the backlash for the simple fact that they aren’t the favourite target; it’s not about criticising what deserves to be criticised, it’s something much more sinister that has me worried about the future of entertainment. Especially with fans starting selfish and entitled petitions that disrespect all the work that goes into their entertainment they’re too spoilt rotten to eat when given, all because they found one or two things a bit rushed which, in internet speak, means the WHOLE thing just sucks – I really hate that word, “sucks”.

I definitely think I could go on folks, I really really could but I’d better stop before my brain explodes, or yours does for indulging me for this long, this isn’t about me having a moan about someone saying something about about something I liked, I’m legitimately worried about what could be in store for entertainment in the future if this is what the feedback is going to be like, if I were a filmmaker and spent many years of my life making something people don’t like I’ll want to know why, not just read comments about how shit I am. The fan petition thing borders on psychotic given just how easily no one cares about how hard it is to make this stuff, but oh, I forgot, celebrities aren’t real people are they, they’re other worldly entities who are here to serve us, and if they spend many years of their lives making something specifically for us to be entertained and we don’t like it, it makes sense for us to complain about how OUR time was waisted because we watched it for two hours (in the case of some films).

You know what, it’s getting old, the moaning and winging not because of continuity errors, bad sets, cheap cinematography or porno acting, but because a fictional character made decision we don’t like in a fictional story that’s specifically there for enjoyment, I’ve not much faith left for this film critic thing at all, not if children are the ones doing it. Remember that scene in Birdman where the mean critic lady tells Michael Keaton how he represents spoilt entitled children, go rewatch that scene and know that everything she says, I would happily say to modern critics of today.

 


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Grosse Point Geek – Top Ten Favorite Game Of Thrones Characters

Grosse Point Geek – Top Ten Favorite Game Of Thrones Characters

A Blog Grosse Point Geek

For those of you who have been living under a rock for the past few years – Game Of Thrones is THE most popular show on the box  – and deservedly so. Now on its seventh season, audiences the world over have been captivated by its inter weaving story of dragons, white walkers, huge battles, ice covered wastes, and the eternal struggle  to rule over the fictional land of Westeros.

To say any more would be fruitless but if you like Lord Of The Rings, Excalibur, Conan The Barbarian plus  more than a small smattering of Star Wars all topped off with a serious amount of blood letting, decapitations, disemboweling and copious swearing then Game of Thrones is for you. Those with a more sensitive disposition need not bother.

Most of what makes Thrones so good though are its characters, the majority of which start out as utterly despicable or completely lovable and for the most part stay that way  – so just for a bit of fun ive complied my top ten favorites  – see below

 

(FYI Spoilers ahead!)

 

1.Tyrion Lannister (AKA The Imp). 

Played by: Peter Dinklage.

Hampered by his somewhat diminutive stature, affection for the demon drink, prostitutes and being loathed by his all powerful and admittedly horrible family, Tyrion is constantly forced to rely on his wits and cunning. You just cant help but love him – brilliantly played by Peter Dinklage, he gets all the best lines and manages to be in just about every episode so far.

Favorite scenes: Delivering a rousing speech just before the Battle of The Blackwater in Season 2 then killing his hideously smug father (Charles Dance – whilst on the toilet) with a crossbow in season 4.

Status: Still alive.

 

 

2. Bron Of The Blackwater

Played by: Jerome Flynn (yes him off Robson and Jerome and Soldier Soldier)

A whoring, wine swilling,  oik who’s also a dab hand with a sword. Started out as a small supporting character but now a firm fan favorite – mostly due to some very funny if unrepeatable one liners.

Favorite Scene: The loot train battle in S7 – brings down and almost kills Drogon the dragon with a giant crossbow then in the nick of time saves Jamie Lannister from being roasted alive by said beast.

Status: Still alive

 

 

3. Tormund Giantsbane

Played by: Kristofer Hivju

One of the so called Wildings from north of the wall. Initially a baddie but after being set free and pardoned by Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) he’s now properly on the side of right. Completely bonkers character, also a bit of a pervert –  all flaming hair, huge beard and mad eyes – making him completely brilliant – if a tad insane.

Favorite Scene: The look on his face when he first claps eyes on a very unimpressed Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie)  and falls madly in love with her, then the utterly hilarious smile he gives her in a later episode that is so funny it has to be seen to be believed

Status: Still alive

 

4. Ramsay Bolton

Played by: Iwan Rheon

Quite simply – one of the greatest villains in TV history. A psychopath and a sadist of staggering proportions – the list of his evil deeds is legend – skinning enemies alive, stabbing his father to death, castrating Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen), feeding his stepmother and her newborn son to the hounds, torturing Sansa Stark, plus numerous others that dont bear thinking about. Brilliantly played by Iwan Rheon – we will simply never see a baddie like this again and God help us all if we do!

Favorite Scene   – all of them  – but especially when he gets his comeuppance in s6

Status: Dead  – deservedly gets eaten alive by his own dogs but not before being given an utter shoeing by Jon Snow at The Battle of The Bastards.

5. Ser Jorah Mormont

Played by: Iain Glen

Disgraced knight of the realm, initially paid to spy on Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) but then falls in love with her from afar and becomes her most trusted and loyal adviser. A very sympathetic, heroic and rather lovely character, who you just cant help rooting for  – played with gusto by the very fruity voiced Iain Glen.

Best scene: S5  – The Dance Of Dragons  – fights tooth and nail in a massive gladiatorial battle then saves Daenerys from certain death with a well placed spear.

Status: Dead

6. The Dragons (Rhaegal, Drogon and Viserion)

Played by: CGI creations

I always considered that the best screen dragon of all time was Vermithrax Perjorative in Dragonslayer (if you havent seen it do so asap) that was until i saw these three. Giant fire breathing beasts – last of their kind  – the so called “children” of Daenerys Targaryen – all are a wonder of visual effects genius, look completely real and elevate GOT to unlimited heights of brilliance whenever they are on the screen – damn terrifying too.

Best Scene: Hard to pick but for me it was Drogon’s nick of time appearance in S5 Dance of Dragons, then the Loot train battle and the huge fight with the white walker army  in s7.

Status: 1 Alive, 2 Dead

7. Sandor Clegane (AKA The Hound)

Played by: Rory Mcgann

Horribly disfigured, foul mouthed and very bad tempered former kings body guard. Clegane goes from being initially a really horrible person who kills without mercy to becoming almost likable and extremely sympathetic. Another interesting, well drawn character, superbly played by Rory Mcgann,  with subtle, hidden depths that have been slowly drawn out over the course of 7 seasons.

Best Scene: The massive and very bloody tavern scrap in S3

Status: Dead

8. Joffrey Baratheon

Played by: Jack Gleeson

Teenage king of Westeros and a lying, spoilt, sadistic, cowardly bully. The kind of person that deserved a right kicking from every person he ever wronged. Horrible character in fact – but so brilliantly realized by the very talented Jack Gleeson that one simply cant leave him out of this top ten.

Best Scene: Hard to say  – for me it was the wedding feast after he weds Margaery Tyrell – behaves appallingly, humiliating his uncle Tyrion but not before suffering  death by poisoning – and God did he deserve it!

Status – Very dead

9. Jamie Lannister

Played by: Nicolai Coster Waldau

A very complex character, who starts out as a total swine, who is having an affair with his sister plus mercilessly cripples young Bran Stark by pushing him out of a window. Then in a stroke of very clever plotting becomes a guy you just cant help rooting for – despite the fact that he’s on the side of the villains.

Best Scene: Saving Brienne of Tarth from the bear pit.

Status: Dead

10. Jon Snow

Played by Kit Harrington

The main GOT character and clearly modeled on Luke Skywalker. Yes i know at times hes a bit bland – but he’s completely fearless, hard as a coffin nail, great in a fight and a total classic hero.

Best Scene: For me its in my two favorite GOT episodes – The Watchers on The Wall (S4) and The Battle of The Bastards (s6). He’s in every scene and kicks so much arse with that sword of his that its a joy to watch.

Status: Still alive

There you go then  – my top ten favorite Game of Thrones characters. If you havent watched GOT yet then i implore you to do so -admittedly it took Phil Hobden a great deal of effort to get me to stick at it, but im so glad he did as its now become my favorite TV show ever and i cantrecommend it highly enough.

Valar Morgulis!

 


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Grosse Point Geek: The Top Ten Performances That Should Have Been Nominated For An Oscar But Weren’t…

Grosse Point Geek: The Top Ten Performances That Should Have Been Nominated For An Oscar But Weren’t…

A Blog Grosse Point Geek

I don’t like the Oscars much -the ceremony drags on for hours and is hideously boring,  and crammed with cringe worthy speeches (Gwynneth Paltrow and Tom Hanks being some of the worst offenders).  Every time the nominations are announced, someone that should have been a shoo in for a nod gets criminally snubbed (the list is endless) , plus invariably they don’t make sense.

Now not every actor can get a nomination for a good performance but there are some that have been so shockingly over looked by the academy  that it beggars belief. Therefore having given this a great deal of thought  i decided to  put together a list of actors that should have been nominated for Oscar but wernt – read on:

 * * * * * *

1. Film: Seven (1995)

Should have been nominated for: Best Actor (Brad Pitt).

So brutal in parts its almost a horror and featuring a twist ending that’s never been bettered, Seven will stand the test of time as the greatest serial killer film ever made. Unflinchingly dark, most of the praise went to David Fincher’s brilliant direction and the admittedly outstanding Morgan Freeman –  however its Pitt as the arrogant, idealistic Det. David Mills  that should have been far more recognized.

Best scene: Ably holding his own against Freeman (no easy feat) witness  his gut wrenching transformation in the films climax, from cocksure cop to utterly broken man when he realizes just exactly what’s in the box – outstanding.

  * * * * * *

2. Film: Man On Fire (2004)

Should have been nominated for: Best Actor-Denzel Washington.

Denzel Washington is just superb here, as suicidal bodyguard John Creasey in Tony Scott’s cracking action thriller.

Fast, furious and brutal, Man On Fire managed to be a blistering actioner and showcased a fantastic turn from Washington, who manages to pull off a very complex character whilst making him sympathetic even when he’s torturing half the criminals in Mexico.

Best Scene: A roll of duct tape, some eye wateringly placed placed explosive and a bent Mexican cop who desperately wishes “he had more time”.

  * * * * * *

3. Film: The Big Lebowski

Should have been nominated for: Best Supporting  Actor-John Turturro.

A film that flopped on release but has since  passed into legend as one of the funniest and most obscure comedies of all time. The Coen brothers masterpiece features an entire myriad of bonkers characters, from Jeff Bridges as the Dude to Tara Reid as porn star Bunny, all brilliant  – but none more so than John Turturro as the bowling ball licking, do-rag wearing pederast, Jesus Quintana.

Of all the directors in Hollywood, only the Coens could make sex offender seem funny, and every time i watch this film ive almost busted a gut laughing at Turturro’s manic performance. Greasy, foul mouthed, pretentious and strutting like a peacock, he’s only in three scenes – and he owns every one of them.

Best Scene: Threatening to shove a gun up John Goodman’s backside until the trigger goes “click”.

  * * * * * *

4. Film: True Romance

Should have been nominated for: Best Supporting Actor – Gary Oldman.

In the wake of Reservoir Dogs  – studios were in a feeding frenzy for any scripts written by Quentin Tarantino. One of which was True  Romance – funny, profane and very violent, its hard to decide which of its cast should have received the most praise. Christian Slater has never been better as the slightly unhinged Clarence, Dennis Hopper is wonderful as Slater’s doomed father, and Brad Pitt (again) is hilarious as the permanently stoned Floyd. However, its Blighty’s own Gary Oldman, appearing in just two scenes as psychopath pimp Drexl who steals the show. One eyed, horribly scarred, with bad teeth, greasy dreadlocks, he is evil incarnate, and Oldman is terrifying in the role  – bypassed by the Academy it took them until 2011  to finally reward him with a nomination  for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy  -how did it take them so long??.

Best Scene: The strip club confrontation- “it aint white boy day is it?”.

  * * * * * *

5. Film: Good Will Hunting

Should have been nominated for: Best Supporting actor – Ben Affleck.

Matt Damon and Ben Affleck deservedly won Oscars for their self penned screenplay about a violently self destructive maths genius. Featuring some superb performances -Damon, Minnie Driver and Robin Williams all excel, but, in a career best performance, Affleck is just wonderful as Chucky, Will’s fiercely loyal, foul mouthed best friend. Getting all the best lines and being the only one who finally gets Will to realize just how much his genius is a gift from the gods, Affleck has never been better. Damon, Driver  and Williams were all nominated for their performances  – but if anyone deserved more recognition for their acting in this film it was Big Ben.

Best Scene: The building site lecture – where Chucky tells Will what the best part his day is – wonderful and more than a bit heart breaking to boot.

  * * * * * *

6. Film: Rocky Balboa (2006)

Should have been nominated for: Best Actor (Sylvester Stallone)

When it was announced that Rocky would be making a sixth bow on the big screen, the sound of collective groans was almost deafening. Its dreadful predecessor -Rocky V – had effectively killed the franchise, Stallone hadn’t had a hit in years and was stuck making some frankly godawful films (Avenging Angelo being a particular low point). So it was to everyone’s surprise that when Rocky Mark 6 came out, what was expected to be something of a joke turned out to be anything but.

Wisely going back to basics, Sly portrays Rocky as a sad,  heart broken widower (Adrian has died), desperate to connect with his yuppie son (Milo Ventimiglia) and pining for the glory days of his former life as a world class boxer. Its brilliant stuff – beautifully photographed, skilfully directed and superbly acted by Stallone, Ventimiglia and Burt Ward as Paulie.

With the obligatory training montage, a fantastic boxing match and the kind of jump for joy feel-good factor rarely seen in films today  -this was, without doubt, one of the best nights ive ever had at the cinema – lets just say that grown men were known to cry!

Best Scene – Rocky’s heart rending confession to Paulie how bitter he is about Adrian dying and his struggles with the “beast” inside him.

  * * * * * *

7. Film:  The Lord of The Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

Should have been nominated for: Best Supporting Actor- Sean Astin

Ok ROTK deservedly won just about all its categories at the 2005 Oscars  – but, despite this the only actor to ever get a nomination was Ian Mckellan as Gandalf in The Fellowship of The Ring.

With its huge cast its very hard to say who  gives the best performance – the likes of Viggo Mortensen, Elijah Wood and Bernard Hill are all superb, but for me the standout was Sean Astin as Sam.

Now some American actors can do good British accents – but these are the types usually adopted in films like Shakespeare in Love and Gladiator.

Here, however, the very American Sean Astin did the impossible and pulled off an absolutely pitch perfect west country accent, and on top of that  turned in a frankly outstanding  performance that anchored the entire trilogy.

Best Scene: ROTK – Unable to go any further, and weighed down by the  ring, Frodo (Elijah Wood) collapses with exhaustion on the slopes of Mount Doom. Refusing to let him give up, Sam  gently tells Frodo about the wonders of the shire, then in one last gasp of strength, painfully hauls his beloved friend over his shoulder and makes his way up the mountain to destroy the one ring.

  * * * * * *

 8. Tombstone (1994)

Should have been nominated for: Best Supporting Actor: Val Kilmer.

In 1994 there were two adaptations of the story of Wyatt Earp.  Lawrence Kasdan and Kevin Costner’s version was a rather bloated and overlong affair, but George P Cosmato’s Tombstone was by far the clear winner.

Ok it isn’t Shakespeare, there are some gaping plot holes, some of the editing is a bit iffy and by all accounts it was a nightmare shoot ( original director Kevin Jarre got the boot early on).

Despite this, it’s a very entertaining  film. Kurt Russell is very good as Wyatt Earp , as are Michael Biehn and Powers Boothe as the main villains.

However its Kilmer that shines the most  as the Latin spewing,  tuberculosis ridden Doc Holliday. Stealing every scene he’s in and walking away with the entire film, this was the role that got Kilmer out from the shadow of Top Gun and showed him as an actor of real range and versatility. Criminally overlooked by the academy, its just a damn shame he never capitalised on his success here and unfortunately  is now to be found in various bargain basement DTV efforts.

Best Scene:  Ensconced in the local saloon and  drunk as a monkey, Holliday slurringly  trades insults (in Latin) with Michael Biehn’s Johnny Ringo, who then tries to get one over on him with a macho display of handgun twirling.  Not to be outdone, Holliday brings the house down by doing the exact same thing  – but with a whiskey cup. A cracking scene that perfectly sets up the story for the bullet riddled action to come.

  * * * * * *

9. In The Line Of Fire (1993)

Should have been nominated for: Best Actor: Clint Eastwood

For me Clint Eastwood is an actor that has just got better with everything film he appears in. Now everyone says that his greatest performance was in Unforgiven – and undoubtedly he thoroughly deserved a best actor nomination for his portrayal as the reformed outlaw and mass murderer William Munny.

In my opinion though, the film where he impressed the most was as the aging secret service agent Frank Horrigan in Wolfgang Peterson’s In The Line Of Fire.

Haunted by his past failure to save JFK  and desperate to stop John Malkovich’s chameleon alike assassin from killing the current president, Clint has never been better.  Deceptively introducing  Horrigan as a standard,  by the numbers tough guy,  Eastwood superbly reveals him as a heartbroken tortured man who just needs that one last chance to redeem himself.

Best Scene: After being told he’s off the President’s security detail, Frank recounts to fellow agent Lily Raines(Rene Russo) what happened on that fateful day in Dallas. This is, without doubt the best acting you will ever see from Eastwood – just incredible.

  * * * * * *

10. Twelve Monkeys (1995)

Should have been nominated for: Best actor: Bruce Willis

Recent efforts by Bruce Willis have been utter rubbish – Die Hard 5 and GI Joe 2 were terrible, plus he seems to be starring in more and more DTV films that never see the inside of a cinema.

However in 1996 he gave an absolutely amazing performance as unhinged convict James Cole in Terry Gilliam’s post apocalyptic time travel masterpiece.

Completely shedding his usual smirking tough guy image, Willis  effortlessly brings range, depth and subtlety to a highly complex and sympathetic character,– all qualities that he has rarely utilised in future roles he’s played.

Best Scene: In a touching moment, after kidnapping  psychiatrist Madeline Stowe, the injured Cole hears music on the radio for the first time and revels in its beauty.

 

Author: Will Strong 

 

Venom (2018): Review by Motion Picture Maniac

Venom (2018): Review by Motion Picture Maniac

A Blog Motion Picture Maniac

OK, this is a weird one, sometimes, having mixed feelings on a film isn’t the surest thing in the world, the answer to the question “what did you think?” simply being “I have mixed feelings” doesn’t feel like it does a rather endearing little film like “Venom” the justice it deserves. Did Venom have bad? Yes, yes it did. Did Venom have good? Also yes, I would be lying through my teeth so hard they would come flying out like bullets if I said I thought it didn’t. Do I feel hesitant to call the overall piece a generally good film? Yeah, I’m afraid so, but why then give it a 6 as opposed to 5? The reason is, when I’m mixed in this particular and oddly specific way, I ask myself the question – would I actively want to see it again? And in the case of Venom; the answer is yes.

Tom “Shut The F*ck Up You C*nt” Hardy plays Eddie Brock, a famous reporter who, through a series of circumstances, finds himself host to a parasitic alien symbiote named Venom, sometimes a disembodied voice in Eddie’s head with some control over Eddie’s body, other times a big black monstrosity with big teeth who likes to bite off people’s heads. Eddie must get over the fact that Venom is here to stay and embarks on a raw meat munching mission, kitted out with quips n’ quotes, to win back his girl and beat the baddie.

The plot is very basic when you think about it afterwards, but is that a bad thing by definition? I’ve seen a lot of people make a comparison between this film and all the Marvel superhero films that predate Iron Man and I think that’s because Venom’s plot is late to the game. It’s as simple as A B C, 1 2 3 and at this point in movie history we’re all used to A 1 B 6 17 C (the same reason some MCU films are feeling familiar in the story department), but again, does that make it bad? Personally I have no idea, I’m disappointed that A B C, 1 2 3 lacks ambition but I also like the aesthetic of the movie ending up that way because it enjoyed watching Tom Hardy go nuts too much for its own good; something I’m not mad about because I too am guilty of doing.

I freaking love Tom Hardy, he’s one of my favourite actors and the primary reason I look forward to films he’s in, films I otherwise wouldn’t think too much about before seeing anyway due to cinematic obsession but I digress. I have read some reviews that call this his worst performance but I couldn’t disagree more, there’s not a moment in the entire movie in which he’s onscreen that I could take my eyes off him, as well as being a much more likeable iteration of the character than what’s found in the source material and the stupid Spiderman 3; he’s like the physical embodiment of a carnival (I’m talking about Eddie Brock and the voice of Venom with that one).

It’s a shame the tone is as inconsistent as it is because when the movie wants to be funny I think it really succeeds, Venom’s quips always had me laughing and big dumb fun action scenes accompany that sort of thing quite well. Unfortunately the jokes are often broken up by evil mad scientist stuff that belongs in a different movie – not badly made, just inconsistent and strange. The directing doesn’t help the tone much since I’m not sure Ruben Fleischer was interested in originality so much as just doing his own version of stuff he liked seeing in other movies, he didn’t bring his own sensibility to the table, Venom doesn’t have an original look or feel of its own, its cinematography is commercial and unremarkable and I think a sequel needs both a different director and an R rating, sorry Ruben but i think this task is better suited to an auteur.

There’s a word I would use to describe Venom, unremarkable, apart from Hardy a lot of it feels just that, even bordering on generic, shoot maybe the story being late to the game is a bad thing after all , the plot, characters and style feel derivative of other works and I, like many others it seems, was hoping for more, in fact I’ll be truthful – I really wanted Venom to be great to spite a critic I can’t stand and who embodies a lot of the arrogance and pretentiousness that has mutilated modern internet film criticism into the popularity contest it is today (no, it’s not Mark Kermode), I mean what is the deal today with judging a film’s quality before it’s even been shot because of, in this guy’s case, the character it’s based on supposedly being overrated and the fanbase is just ill-informed?

No, I’m not grasping at straws in a desperate attempt to say Venom is a good film out of sheer spite and personal resentment towards the current comic book movie critical culture that called it terrible before it was even made, I’m just a bit fed up with movies like Venom doing nothing to help disprove these idiots and falling into status quo’s that make their pompousness predictions look like some kind of prophesising like their smug looks suggest!

All that being said I did enjoy Venom, I enjoyed its action, its cast and performances, its jokes and while the CGI on things like crashing vans and super powered feet leaping from a brick wall wasn’t all that good the CGI on all things symbiote was top notch and impressively detailed, like I said at the beginning, I asked myself if all that is enough to want to see it again and the answer is yes. Venom is a messy, flawed, not sure what it wants to do with itself guilty pleasure that I had fun with during moments of genuine effort such as the action and the dynamic between Eddie and Venom.

Author: Jamie Robinson (Motion Picture Maniac)

 


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Grosse Point Geek –  Mile 22 (2018)

Grosse Point Geek – Mile 22 (2018)

A Blog Grosse Point Geek The Blogs

Grosse Point Geek casts his critical eye over the latest (some sometimes greatest) releases… this time out: Mile 22

Director: Peter Berg
Principal Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Lauren Cohan, Iko Uwais, Rhonda Rousey, John Malkovich
Plot in a nutshell: A elite US special ops team in Indonesia are tasked with aiding in the escape of a local police officer (Iko Uwais) out of the country in exchange for the location of cache of stolen chemical weapons. Their only problem is that the airport is 22 miles away and the entire Indonesian intelligence agency are hot on their tails.
What worked: The action scenes  – gunfights, car chases, explosions, hand to hand combat – all expertly staged, extremely brutal and very exciting -especially those featuring Iko Uwais – who, frankly is a martial arts god. Its also well directed by Berg and zips along at a superb breakneck pace
What could have been better: Wahlberg is annoying and a tad  dislikeable  as the leader of the special ops team  – and seems to play these types of characters in just about every action film he ever appears in. Also director Peter Berg’s quickfire editing needed reigning in a bit, plus sticking a wig on Malkovich was a somewhat catastrophic decision by the wardrobe department.
Best scene: The hospital fight sequence – an enormous bout of fisticuffs featuring the astounding Iko Uwais versus two Indonesian government goons who have been sent to kill him.
Summary Review: Not perfect and Wahlberg badly needs a new MO – but a great action film nonetheless,  refreshingly non pc, very violent and really really entertaining.
See it at the Cinema?: Yes
Buy it on Blu Ray/DVD?: Yes


 

Author: Will Strong aka Grosse Point Geek

 

 

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The Predator – Motion Picture Maniac

The Predator – Motion Picture Maniac

A Blog Motion Picture Maniac

 

Shane Black’s The Predator is cringe-inducing miscalculation of tone and narrative pace, a film that doesn’t seem to know why it has been made in the first place; if it were a person it would wonder into your house, curiously stumble about the place with a confused look on its face before realising it’s in the wrong address and leaving before causing any real trouble. The original Predator movie is a classic on all fronts, a very special film to me personally and you know what? I like Predator 2 too, and the Alien VS Predator movies – sue me! This movie, The Predator… oh dear; what the hell happened?

I was literally about to start talking about the story and it has taken me some time to think of a cohesive summary: a predator, I big crab-faced brute that communicates through clicking and ripping people’s spines out, crashes to Earth and screws up a hostage rescue operation that the film forgets about after a minute or two of the interruption. A sniper, played by Boyd Holbrook, encounters the creature, steals some of its equipment and goes on the run, meanwhile Olivia Munn is a biologist who gets picked up by the government agency hell bent on capturing the predators and stealing their technology in order to… give them a hand I guess?

MEANWHILE (again) Holbrook sends the predator equipment he stole to his estranged wife and son by mistake and drops them right in it, MEANWHILE (again, again) a much bigger super predator arrives who is also hunting the regular predator who crashed to Earth, MEANWHILE—OH GOD! How much is going on in this movie? It’s not like I’m just doing a crap job of summarizing it, this film, after a fun opening scene of crashing spaceships and Predator carnage, spends its entire first act jumping around from scene to scene without any sense of narrative necessity, flow or cohesiveness, it just kind of goes along, here’s another character, here’s another one, oh and here’s another one.

It’s the kind of mess that suggests there’s a ton of footage missing, that maybe, once, these scenes did have more to connect them but it’s all been amputated for the sake of… I don’t know, shorter runtime, more room to include stuff the studio wanted for future reference maybe, like sequels and stuff like that? Oh I see, if that’s the case then it doesn’t sound like the studio cared that much about a good movie, sounds like they did what Warner Bros. did to Justice League.

Add that to the rumours of paranoid sounding reshoots (just like Justice League) and you get a scary idea of what this thing is, a corporate product handled the same way a school bully gets the weaker kid to do his homework for him. Helmed by a studio that I’m going to guess didn’t really give a damn about integrity but rather something they could police however they wanted regardless of their hired filmmaker’s vision, “just make us a new predator movie, make it how we want, shut up, no we don’t know anything about narrative or structure but just add what we tell you to because meeting financial guidelines makes movies good by definition, right?”

I know I’m blaming the studio a lot but when you look at these problems as they play in the film they really do feel similar to infamous stories of studio meddling in the past, and not the kind of mistakes I can see a filmmaker like Shane Black make through incompetence. I think what I can blame Shane Black for is his decision to include some of the cringiest and unwarranted comedy EVER! I’m not gonna lie, I did chuckle a few times here and there but for the most part I just had to bury my face in my hands with embarrassment, particularly during the scenes on a bus. There’s a mentally challenged predator dog that shows up here and there to make a fool of itself, there’s a horrendous scene in a hotel room involving a slip up with Tourette’s which I really don’t want to think about too much and the fact that so much of the running time is dedicated to this just boggles my brain.

I was massively disappointed with The Predator, when it’s trying to be funny it makes me want to shoot myself, the action scenes are unmemorable, the CGI could’ve been better, the characters are all just walking talking quirks, the cinematography is alright and the actors seem to be having fun but the film gets surprisingly dull after the first hour or so. Even the predator costume doesn’t live up to the A+ perfection of those worn by Kevin Peter Hall, visible lines and crevices on the face suggest animatronics and the CGI on the creature’s eyes – no, sorry Shane, but no.

 

Author: Jamie Robinson (Motion Picture Maniac)

 

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The Krays: Dead Man Walking (2018) EXCLUSIVE Review

The Krays: Dead Man Walking (2018) EXCLUSIVE Review

All Things Film Blog The Blogs

Most films about the notorious twins cover their rise and fall, The Krays: Dead Man Walking solely focuses on a 12 day period in December 1966 in relation to the escape from Dartmoor prison of Frank “The Mad Axeman” Mitchell, a giant of a man with great physical strength and an even shorter fuse.

Once holed up in a dingy London flat, Mitchell (Josh Myers) starts to exhibit the kind of behaviour that saw him sentenced in the first place. Unable to trust or control him, the twins decide that they will give Mitchell a present in the form of a club hostess called Lisa (Eastender’s Rita Simon’s) to keep him “busy”. As Mitchell’s behaviour intensifies, the twins are left with only one bloody decision.

The latest in the Kray’s cannon of films is refreshing in that it solely focuses on just one event in the twin’s life with everything else on the periphery; the audience glimpses the breakdown of Reggie’s marriage to Francis, Lord Boothby’s “friendship” with Ronnie and the dogged detective Nipper Read (played by Leslie Grantham in his last role) while never shying away from the maniacal Mitchell and his penchant for violence. Marc Pickering and Nathan John Carter who play Reggie and Ronnie respectively portray the twins well, Carter, who has been in 2 recent Kray films in supporting roles has now found himself propelled into the shoes of Ronnie and relishes every second.

The film is lean at just 75 minutes but never outstays it’s welcome and leaves you wanting more. For me the only thing that lets the film down is the inclusion of a miscast Darren Day in a throwaway role.  Day just doesn’t manage to convince, even with limited screen time.

But minor quibble aside like the twins themselves, this smart, gritty, violent and stylish thriller never outstays its welcome and leaves a lasting impression.  Smart, gritty and stylish… The Krays: Dead Man Walking is a vicious and visceral treat

Reviewed by Matt Duddy

The Krays: Dead Man Walking is released on DVD, BluRay and VOD on the xxxxx 2018

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