Tolkien (2019): Review by Motion Picture Maniac

Tolkien (2019): Review by Motion Picture Maniac

A Blog

If I were going to make a film about J R R Tolkien, a question would occur to me – I know there is no middle ground when it comes to the reception of this kind of thing, so who do I lean more towards, people who want to see Tolkien the linguist, Tolkien the author or Tolkien the war veteran? Perhaps I could do all three and run the risk of overstuffing and looking like I didn’t know which to focus on (which I don’t). I could just pick the one I find the most interesting, but it’ll be just my luck that no one else will share my opinion, which is all you have to go when making any kind of film, what, in your opinion, do you think will make for good entertainment?

I bring this up because I’m a big fan of Tolkien’s literary world, I haven’t read all of his Middle Earth works (still got the Unfinished Tales and the Fall of Gondolin left to go), Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy is in my top ten favourite movies of all time and, while they are inferior and flawed, I also enjoyed his Hobbit movies for what they were: a good bit of fantasy adventure fun. But, to make a long story short, I don’t want anyone misunderstanding and thinking the reason I came close to hating the film “Tolkien” is because, as I am a fan of his work, it didn’t focus on what I wanted it to focus on, which simply isn’t true.

Tolkien is a film that doesn’t seem to know why it exists other than no one has made a film about the man who wrote Middle Earth yet. The writing is so stuffed with biopic cliches I started to wonder if the writers were resentful of the task laid before them and didn’t know what else to do, other than just fill it with the usual standard malarky. It could be arrogant of me to assume so, since I wasn’t there with them – I don’t know why they made the decisions they made, but it’s like they sat down to make a film about Tolkien and thought “shit, we have to make a film about Tolkien… how”? We get a little glimpse of his childhood and it serves no real story telling purpose, we find out later that it very easily could have though, we learn he and his brothers have been taught linguistics by their mother but we don’t see any of that when they’re together; so they opted out of showing in favour of telling – that’s nice.

Did the writers not think there was enough in his life to make a coherent film out of? I don’t know, I’m just trying to understand the decision-making behind the inclusion of all those awful biopic cliches! Ooh, the teacher mispronounced his name, har-har-har, ooh the teacher’s getting mad because Tolkien corrected him, ooh he’s going to make Tolkien stand up in class and read a difficult text, ooh he knows how to read it, har-har! Aside from Nicholas Hoult most other actors seem to be doing pantomime, they’re all really over the top and unbelievable to the point where it’s not even funny, in fact I’ll just come out and say it like this – the acting is not very good at all. Add that to the fact that some of the characters are the most loud and obnoxious shits I did my very best to avoid back when I was at school.

For some reason the decision has been made to include fantastical middle Earth imagery amongst the world war 1 set pieces, I was worried about this when I saw it in the terrible – just TERRIBLE TERRIBLE trailer, and after seeing in the context of the film I have to say it comes across as really rather tasteless and cheap. There’s another soldier who helps a sickly Tolkien through the trenches and just when it was starting to eerily remind me of Frodo and Sam, we learn that this soldier’s name is, indeed, Sam… I think I’m going to be sick. They couldn’t have found some other way of including it? Anything?… ANYTHING???

Overall I didn’t think it was that well told of a story, I was so put off by the over the top acting, cliched writing and lack of reason to exist that the whole thing just became boring, Hoult’s performance is too wooden for J R R Tolkien who, from what I’ve seen in interviews, was actually a pretty fun looking guy and Hoult did not bring that to the table. I’ll say this, there were a few wink-wink jokes scattered throughout that did make me chuckle, aside from that, Tolkien really didn’t do it for me, I didn’t like it at all.

 


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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 

 

Phil’s Top 5… 21st Century’s most re-watchable films

Phil’s Top 5… 21st Century’s most re-watchable films

Other Cr*p Top 5

Each week Phil, from Phil’s Quick Capsule Review, takes a look at a different movie or TV related Top Five.  This time out:  21st Century’s most re-watchable films

 

Close but no cigar: Ocean’s 11, The Avengers, The Bourne Ultimatum, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Dredd

 

5 – The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy
Okay a LITTLE cheat here but these films really do make one long film.  And man for near 12 hours of film that are incredibly re-watchable.

 

4 – Harry Potter & The Philosophers Stone
The film that kicked it all off is still magical to this day.  From it’s charming cast to it’s often scary moments, this film set the tone for decades worth of films and merchandise that followed.

 

3 – Guardians of the Galaxy
By far Marvel’s most re-watchable film.  It’s funny, clever and charming whilst never forgetting what it is.

 

2 – Skyfall
Possible the best Bond film (at least on par with Goldfinger & License To Kill), Mendes does EVERYTHINg right here.

 

1 – The Dark Knight
Nolan’s second Batman film is quite simply the best film of the 20th century so far for me – a film that is so much more than just the excellent performance by Ledger.

 

 

 

 

 

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Bright – A Quick Capsule Review

Bright – A Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
Bright is Netflix’ $90 million big budget original sci-fi release, its gamble to try and take on the big studios at their own game.  The idea is great.  The execution sadly isn’t.  Bright is a high 15/low 18 rated sci-fi film that feels like it wants to be a kids film.  It’s an odd mix of Orc’s, fairies and elves with Training Day with added Will Smith.  But it’s rushed world building just doesn’t work and instead of being interesting it mostly comes off as hokey. Maybe as a TV series for sure but as a film this is a miss.

Best Bit: Visually nice

Buy, Stream, Avoid: Avoid (Netflix)

If You Liked this Try: Training Day, Lord Of The Rings, Alien Nation 

IMDB Rating: 

 

Author: Phil Hobden

The 25 Best… 00’s Movies!

The 25 Best… 00’s Movies!

Best... Other Cr*p

In our latest regular feature, coming out the first Friday of each month, Phil (of Phil’s Quick Capsule Review)  along with podcaster Josh Morris, Writer Mike Parkin, Grosse Point Geek’s Will Strong and Motion Picture Manic Jamie Robinson breakdown the 25 Best Films Of each major film decade.

 

This time out: The 2000’s. 

The close but no cigar Films: There Will Be Blood, District 9, Rocky Balboa, Shaun of The Dead, Spiderman 2, Dawn of The Dead, Lilo And Stitch, Spartan, Waltz With Bashir, Finding Nemo,  Oh Brother Where Art Thou, Sntach, Zoolander, Battle Royale, Heremias: Book 1 – Legend Of The Lizard Princess, King Kong, The Replacements

 

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King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword  – A Quick Capsule Review

King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword – A Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
Aka Lock, Stock And One Smoking Jude Law.  A hot mess of a film for sure, King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword ranges from nearly brilliant to boring, often in the same sequence.  It’s what happens when you cross Lock Stock, Assassins Creed, Game Of Thrones, Excalibur, Lord Of The Rings and some insane fever dream.  It’s a loud, messy, confused film that at times manages to feel rushed yet drags often enough to have me checking my watch more than a few times.  The cast are odd- Charlie Hunnam (who was great in TV’s Sons Of Anarchy) isn’t strong enough to save what at times is a terrible script and often looks a bit embarrassed, whilst Law needed to dial it up a bit.  Richie is having fun (at least someone is)  and the soundtrack is a highlight but I can’t help feel that there was a really good idea here that could have done with a far better script to make it work.  So a failure for sure but one not without it’s moments…

Best Bit: Mastering the sword…

Buy, Stream, Avoid: Stream

If You Liked this Try: Lock Stock And Two Smoking Barrels, Game Of Thrones, Lord Of The Rings

IMDB Rating: 

 

Author: Phil Hobden

Phil’s Best To Worst: Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth Films

Phil’s Best To Worst: Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth Films

Best... Other Cr*p

In our latest regular feature, coming out the first Friday of each month, Phil (of Phil’s Quick Capsule Review) breaks down a film related subject in order of his own personal enjoyment from Best To Worst.  This time out: Peter Jackson’s two Middle Earth trilogy’s ! 

[divider]

Best: Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers

Gollum entered cinema lexicon in what is still an unbeatable combination of motion capture and CGI, the battle of Helms Deep still remains untouched on screen and we are now fully invested in the characters and their fates.  In short it’s epic. 

——

2. Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship of The Ring 

Tough one this.  Fellowship of The Ring and Two Towers sit almost alongside each other in terms of quality.  A great establishing film packed full of memorable moments, it’s smaller and more intimate scale pays dividends.  It introduced fantasy to millions and set the benchmark for the film series that followed.

——

3. Lord Of The Rings: The Return of The King

A stunning film for sure, the action beats alone represent some of the best fantasy action ever captured on screen.  Yet the film is hampered by tough source material and a seemingly never ending series of, er, endings. The film peaks well before the credits fall.

——

4. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey


This film remains the best Hobbit film mostly due to a few stand out sequences, not least The Riddles In The Dark scene which still stands out as a franchise high point.  The rest of the film is fine but like all the rest of the Hobbit films it’s too long at times.  I didn’t mind the singing!  

——

5. The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies

The Battle Of The Five Armies isn’t a bad film.  It’s just one that takes forever to get where it’s going (much like the rest of Hobbit trilogy).  Once again finding story where the book didn’t include it. Jackson struggles to make a run time out of the scant original material and instead adds pointless sequences after pointless sequence.  Also the CGI already looks dated

——

Worst:The Hobbit: Desolation Of Smaug


Smaug is an amazing creation for sure (almost rivalling that of Gollum) but the film struggles to find pace to get there and when it does it takes too long.  The wider effects can let the film down also.  Meanwhile certain call backs to the earlier (yet timeline latter) Lord Of the Rings films just don’t work. At this point it’s hard to see WHY this had to be split into three films (other than money)

Blog: The Hobbit The Battle Of The Five Armies – A Quick Capsule Review

Blog: The Hobbit The Battle Of The Five Armies – A Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
Look.  If you’ve seen the Lord Of The Rings trilogy and previous two Hobbit films you exactly know what you are going to get here and WHATEVER I say will have no massive impact because, let’s face it, you’ll watch it anyway.  And to be honest the film fully delivers on those expectations, and with a much shorter run time that any of the previous Middle Earth films.  The problem is it does nothing more than do what you expect. The battle scenes are good (but FAR too much CGI) but not as good or as epic as those in The Return Of The King.  The character moments are good, but again The LOTR trilogy did it all better.  It’s shot beautifully but in truth Middle Earth is getting a bit ‘been there done’ that by now.  So as impressive and pretty as all is, there’s just not enough new or original here to excite me.  Especially when Jackson has done it bigger better and with better CGI before.  So a final farewell to Middle Earth.  Please don’t come back.

Best Bit: Christopher lee kicks arse.  Kinda.

Buy, Rent, Stream, Borrow: Rent

If You Liked this Try: Lord Of The Rings: Return of The King, The Hobbit,  Krull

Author: Phil Hobden

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 Uncategorized

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 

 

Review: The Hobbit (DVD)

Review: The Hobbit (DVD)

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Okay, so now you know who lost the Filmsploitation quiz! Whichever way the result went, I had earmarked the remainder of the evening to watch The Hobbit – with some major discrimination.

However, rather than use this as a catalyst to routinely trounce a franchise I have little interest in, I decided that since fate had dealt me this unwelcome card, that I would turn this into a sort of redemptive catharsis. As much as I disliked Fellowship of the Ring, I always knew – eventually – I’d have to revisit this franchise to see if I was right the first time. I’m about ten years older now; life has dealt me a number of shitty (and awesome) hands; I’ve grown older, and hopefully more wiser and now I suppose is as good a time as any to see if I can extract any joy or pleasure from these movies.

I’m sure you all know the story, and so I shan’t bother to waste your time by telling you that Bilbo Baggins lives in The Shire and a bunch of unwelcome small people bombard his little hut, along with Ian McKellan – and they all set off on a journey to find a dragon atop a mountain to slay it and reclaim their original home.

Now that the story is done, let me reveal the one-two gut punch right off the bat; I actually really liked The Hobbit! I think Martin Freeman is a great ordinary everyday small person – certainly a better fit than Elijah Wood, and if anyone was going to get Ian Holm’d later in life then I guess it’s Tim from The Office. I can see why Hammer & Tongs elected to cast Freeman as Arthur Dent in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. This time, Jackson nails it. McKellan is fine casting as Dumbledore, or whatever his name is, and the rest of the hobbits are cherubs with enormous heart – although it’s blatantly obvious just how racist the film is by having them speak RP, or stupid Oirish, just in case they’re not cute enough.

The real slam-dunk casting-wise for me is Sylvester McCoy as Radagast – a fellow tall wizard dude. He has beady, protruding eyes. I’m not much of a Who fan, by McCoy did catch me in my formative years of TV watching – and it was another case of inspired casting. I look forward to seeing McCoy in everything I ever see from now on. He has that adorable, cuddly thing going on.

I confess, I jump into The Hobbit virtually Lord of the Rings unscathed, and so I find myself on a rather unexpected journey myself. This must be akin to watching the Star Wars saga for the first ever time, starting with Phantom Menace. However, The Hobbit is no Phantom Menace. There’s a tonne of action – stand-out moments include giant stone menaces battering about and eventually turning to stone when daylight hits them; vampiric in nature, and as CGI as the whole affair is, it takes a near-genius to take on this bulk and make any kind of visual sense of it.

The stand-out scene for me – both of them, in fact – occur in the final hour. The first is the Riddles in the Dark with Andy Serkis playing Gollum. I know sod all about Gollum, but got a sort of perverted sense of schizophrenia permeating the performance. Again, as CGI as it can be, it does work very well.

Finally, the last battle – employing all sorts of trapeze artistry with a bundle of little hobbits all falling around the places is an absolute wheeze. All this charmingly culminates with young Bilbo realising that he’s a central part of the journey, and realising that he too has a place. Awww.

It’s not perfect; it’s a shade under three hours. But strike me down if it didn’t feel that long at all. The first hour is mostly just a silly musical with general merriment; a kind of PG rated Peter Greenaway stage play – and it does become tiresome. But gosh darn it, if at about the 75 minute mark, The Hobbit actually caught me and kept me entangled in its web of ridiculousness. I really, really liked this overlong, stupid fucking movie.

Remember, I avoided this film at all costs. I am glad I have discovered it. So much so, that it has now reinvigorated my curiosity into the original trilogy. Complacency be damned, if they turn out to be shite (as I suspect a lot of it probably is) then at least I’d have seen them through my own volition, and not because I lose a quiz smack down: mental note – never ever show a taste weakness around here ever again. I got lucky this time.

 

Reviewed By: Andrew MacKay

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