Monday, 29 September 2014

The Equalizer - review

Only in Hollywood can Edward Woodward turn into Denzel Washington.

And that's precisely what happens in this Hollywood big screen reboot of the Eighties TV series about a former Intelligence Agent who, like fellow Eighties heroes The A-Team, The Incredible Hulk and The Littlest Hobo, helping people with their troubles.

It is obvious from the slow build beginning that Washington's Robert McCall is not just a quiet, solitary man who works in a hardware store. There is the spotless apartment, his regimented and disciplined lifestyle and inability to sleep which results in late night reading and chats with young prostitute Teri in an all-night diner.

Their discussions are framed like a live action version of Edward Hopper's Nighthawks and it is an act of violence upon Moretz's Jodie Foster like hooker that ignites the fire within and causes McCall to go full Travis Bickle on her pimp and the Russian mobsters that follow.

And in one of the biggest signposting moments since Ripley demonstrated how she could use a power loader, Denzel spends several scenes working in Home Depot... Gee, I wonder where the big showdown will take place?

Denzel goes through the motions as the quiet hard man with a heart of gold who looks cool while walking away from explosions in slow mo but what is lacking here is Tony Scott's hyper-kinetic visuals and flair that would have made this more than equal to the likes of Man On Fire and Unstoppable.

Still, it looks like it will do well enough at the box office to merit a return from Robert McCall in The Sequelizer!

2 stars

Maps To The Stars - review

In 2001, David Lynch took his pilot for a failed TV series set in Hollywood and turned it into the five star masterpiece Mulholland Drive.

This year, another director called David visits Hollywood and the result is a nightmare worse than the one that befalls Diane Selwyn.

Maps To The Stars is a complete and utter mess that, unlike Mulholland Drive feels like a rambling TV pilot full of subplots which go nowhere, characters that disappear without any resolution and Julianne Moore doing her very best Lindsay Lohan impression.

And like Lohan, it is vapid, shallow and a complete waste of talent. This Map To a the Stars ends in a review that gets only one.

1 star

Sunday, 28 September 2014

The Warriors - review

Edgar Wright once remarked on Twitter that "it is never too late to see a film" and this week at the Belmont, 25 years after release, I finally saw The Warriors come out to play.

From the moment that Barry De Vorzon's electro-funk score kicks in during the opening scene which sees scores of New York City gangs assemble and make their way towards a big meet in the Bronx, I was completely on board this train and ready for the ride.

The plot is simple but effective. A gang called The Warriors are framed for the murder of a gang chief and must try to make it all the way from the Bronx back to their home in Coney Island in one piece.

Kickstarted by a DJ sounding out a call to arms with the song "Nowhere To Run", it sets the scene for a number of showdowns between the various "boppers" including the iconic looking Baseball Furies and a bathroom stall fight that must have served as inspiration for one of the battles in Wright's The World's End.

It might not have the same visceral impact when compared to modern day cinematic violence but what it does have in spades is a real sense of machismo, swagger, cool and James Remar spouting lines like "I'm gonna shove that bat up your ass and turn you into a Popsicle".

It took 25 years to see The Warriors but it won't be another 25 before I see it again as I'm already sourcing my leather waistcoat and moving to Coney Island.

4 stars

Saturday, 27 September 2014

20,000 Days On Earth - review

This is not your typical rockumentary. This is more like "a day in the life of a rock star" but specifically the 20,000th day in the life of Nick Cave.

Prior to viewing this film, my knowledge of Nick Cave amounted to a) He is Australian b) he lives in Brighton c) wrote the screenplay and score for The Proposition and d) duetted with Kylie Minogue (a fact that Cave admits brought him a lot of new attention that was short lived when people heard the rest of his stuff).

However you can go into 20,000 Days On Earth with zero knowledge or a PHD in Caveology and there is still so much to admire and enjoy as it paints a lyrical and poetic portrait of a musical icon and the man behind it.

It exposes his songwriting and recording process with a performance of "Higgs-Boson Blues" and also lays bare his soul in a series of confessionals with his psychiatrist, band member Warren Ellis, archivists plus Locke-style conversations with the "are-they or aren't they there" Kylie and the floating head of Ray Winstone.

This brief but brilliant glimpse into Nick Cave's mind culminates in an incredible performance of Jubilee Street at the Sydney Opera House which cuts together 20,000 days of performing into one show-stopping number.

Whether a lifelong fan or casual newcomer, 20,000 Days On Earth will plant the (bad) seed that will see Cave's music play a role in another 20,000 days for many people in the future.

5 stars

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Dark Bunny Tees - Moon T Shirt Review

Back in May 2012, I wrote an article for Clothes On Film called Moon: The Double Meaning of Sam Rockwell's Costume Design.

It looked at how certain elements of the character Sam Bell's costumes took on different meanings as the story unfolded.

Safe to say that the article goes into a lot of detail, much of which could be classified as *SPOILERS* so I won't repeat it here. However please do check out the full article here if you are interested.

One particular item of clothing came in for a lot of examination and that was the "Wake Me When It's Quitting Time" tee that Sam wears in the opening montage and makes a reappearance later on.

Safe to say I was over the Moon (get it?), when Dark Bunny Tees announced they were releasing the t-shirt as part of their new range following their recent website redesign (which also includes this fantastic Guardians Of The Galaxy baseball tee).

24 hours after ordering it online the tee arrived and upon opening the package, discovered in an incredibly nice touch that it had been vacuum-sealed in a "Dark Bunny Industries" logo envelope similar to Lunar Industries.

Out of the packaging, the attention to detail in recreating the design is spot-on and a terrific t-shirt perfect for any Moon or film fan.

It's already been included in my Sam Bell ensemble featuring a home made Sarang Mining Facility jacket complete with the patches from the film.

Hopefully one day Dark Bunny Tees will get to produce a Lunar Industries one to complete the outfit.

I can highly recommend Dark Bunny Tees to anyone looking for a cool, referential t -shirt of their favourite movie.

You have to admire Alex, the man behind the bunny, and his designs which are so much more than just the boring, studio-produced movie tees you find in HMV, etc.

They let you subtly display your love of movies, television (or even the odd Twitter craze #Ruffalomboand the enjoyment of exchanging that knowing nod and a wink when somebody recognises it or gets the reference.

Plus he gets infinite kudos points for producing a t-shirt based on my favourite film of the year Snowpiercer when it hasn't even been released in the UK yet and only seen by people who have imported the French blu ray.

So check out the website and get yourself a cool tee pronto. You'd be hopping mad not to... you know, because of the bunny reference... never mind.

The Riot Club - review

The Riot Club, as explained in a 16th Century prologue, is a club set up to celebrate the life of Lord Riot, a student at Oxford University, who lived life to such a success that it got him killed. Formed by his friends, and passed down through the generations, each year ten students take part in all sorts of bad behaviour and partying that culminates in an annual dinner where anything goes and normally does before they pay for the damage and waltz off into the sunset.

This particular year however, things take a particularly dark turn when events spiral out of control leaving the Club in a hold that their money, privilege and connections might not be able to dig them out of when they attack an innkeeper who wants to throw them out when they wreck the joint.

The performances are all first class and the really, really, really ridiculously good looking young Brits completely convince as a group of posh tossers.

Hmmmm, a group of posh, rich, self-entitled (probable Tory voting) Englishmen using their wealth, power and influence to beat a Scot into submission.

Sound like anything that happened recently?

Well without any further comment, let me just leave this picture of the Bullingdon Club which is apparently the inspiration for the film and play (called Posh) on which it is based.

However the most shocking thing about The Riot Club is not the money or the excessive drinking and partying. It is actually a conversation between new member Miles and his Fresher girlfriend Lauren.

He remarks that he was named after Miles Davis because his parents were listening to the music when he was conceived. Lauren replays that it is lucky her parents didn't do the same because she would have probably been named after Gary Barlow!

Initially dismissed as rubbish, the horrifying fact is that an 18 year-old Fresher would have actually been born in 1996 during the peak of Take That's success. It really makes you feel old.

The Riot Club, not helped by the trailer, starts off promising near Caligula-levels of debauchery but the end result is more akin to a season finale of Skins or Geordie Shore.

3 stars

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

A Walk Among The Tombstones - review

A Walk Among The Tombstones, a private detective story based on a novel hence the 1999 setting, spends a lot of time trying to develop Liam Neeson's character by having traits like "doesn't like modern technology", "hero cop turned retired P.I." and "recovering alcoholic" but thanks to a scene which feels shoehorned in, all it does in reinforce the idea that Neeson is at his best when threatening people over the phone.

It also tries to develop a plot line involving a young, homeless sidekick/partner which doesn't entirely convince given the character's loner status.

It starts off promisingly with a credit sequence that evolves from innocent to chilling but this is nothing more than an average thriller, which following The Guest could have benefitted from more Dan Stevens.

3 stars