Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle – Brand New Trailer!

It’s been a couple of years since we’ve had a Jungle Book live action  remake so let’s have another one!

This time, it’s Andy Serkis who has taken the reigns of director. Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle looks more at how Mowgli tries to defend the jungle from (white) men.

With voices wok from Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Benedict Cumberbatch, Andy Serkis, Freida Pinto,  and Matthew Rhys this looks to be a darker vision with no Bare Necessities in site! What do you think?


Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle is out 2019! 

Wildlife – Review

Remember when people created first features and they were terrible? You know, really awfully shot and badly put together farcical movies so people can test out their skills? Why are people coming out there with this films so gorgeously put together and wonderfully compelling?

Actor Paul Dano turns his talents to directing in brooding drama Wildlife and it shows that he has a real talent for visual film-making.

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Based on a novel by Richard Ford, Wildlife is set in 1960s Montana and follows young Joe Brinson as he deals with his parent’s marriage. As his father Jerry decides to leave to battle a forest fire which is sweeping across the country. With her husband gone, Joe’s mother Jeanette starts to overanalyse herself and begins to fall in love with another man.

Wildlife is one of the most perfectly shot films you’ll ever see. Dano has a beautiful eye for the 1960s period with soft beige hues and historical colouring. Light that hits falling snow, achingly beautiful hues of orange mixed with ash, and just an incredible capture of this period drama. It is almost haunting.

It’s also wonderful Carey Mulligan is wonderfully charged with crafting most of the rage here and she is glorious. There is a bite to her character who can be quite vicious and it’s impressive to see someone so fully-realised in this manner. She coaxing empathy from her character despite the things she does and says. That’s down to the impressive acting from Mulligan and writing by Dano and co-writer Zoe Kazan.

Jake Gyllenhaal is serverly underused here and disappears pretty soon into the action. Young Ed Oxenbould, the brilliantly named young actor from movies such as The Visit and Better Watch out moves into this drama with ease. He is a captivating lead to take you through the upset as a character watching his world shift and change around him.

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The biggest problem with Wildlife is that the pacing doesn’t match the story or characters. There’s a lot of heat and fire here that could’ve used a quicker step. There’s a viciousness of Wildlife that is cutting and needs to have more grit. I mean, it feels really awkward to sit here and say “this film is impeccably made and the performances are perfect,” only to then follow it up with “it needs to be less perfect to be actually be a great film.”

The best way I can describe it is that there is a lot of material here that has the might of a boxing match but is treated like a soft ballet. It doesn’t quite punch the way it should.

Regardless, Wildlife is a fine first feature and shows that Paul Dano really knows the look and feel of a movie. Whilst there are issues with the sloth-like energy, there is a lot to admire here. If not for the look, then absolutely for Mulligan’s cutting performance.


Wildlife is out in cinemas 9th November

First Reformed – Review

Up until First Reformed, I had pretty much given up on Paul Schrader, the screenwriter turned director whose best films – Blue Collar, American Gigolo and The Comfort of Strangers – are way behind him. His 2013 collaboration with Bret Easton Ellis, The Canyons, featured an embarrassing Lindsay Lohan in soft porn. His 2016 adaptation of Eddie Bunker’s Dog Eat Dog starring Nicolas Cage and Willem Cage strove for black comedy but came across as distasteful. After years of working outside the studio system in Hollywood on films in various states of compromise, including Dominion, the prequel to The Exorcist, on which he was replaced by Renny Harlin, Schrader was overcome with cynicism. In the opening of The Canyons, he shows us a derelict movie house, effectively saying ‘cinema is dead’.

It shouldn’t be much of a surprise that a man with a Calvinist upbringing should rise again, returning to religion and the stuff of Robert Bresson, the French director he idolized in his book ‘Transcendental Style in Film’. Yet it is! At a time when America has veered lazily to the right, Schrader, aged 71, has found his voice, subject and purpose.

First Reformed tells the story of Reverend Toller (a goatee-free Ethan Hawke) who ministers to a congregation of six in a 250 year-old renovated church, First Reformed in Albany, upstate New York. The church is something of a local landmark – Toller offers tours, with a one-size-fits-all baseball cap for sale. Toller tries to live within the church’s means, refusing the offer of a plumber to deal with deficiencies in the men’s room – an apt description of Schrader’s oeuvre. He is surprised when one of his parishioners, a modestly pregnant Mary (Amanda Seyfried) asks him to speak to her husband, Michael (Philip Ettinger), who doesn’t want to bring a child into the world.

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Never the most commercial of directors, Schrader eschews wide screen for the Academy Ratio (1.37: 1) that we associate with black and white movies of the 1930s. In the film’s opening, the camera moves slowly towards the white clapboard church where Toller spends his days writing in his journal – a familiar Schrader trope. For the most part, the camera is static. There is little music on the soundtrack save for those performed by a small choir. In being reductive and restrained, Schrader exercises perfect control over his material. Even when he stages – in a literal flight of fancy – the ‘magical, mystery tour’, his choices work.

Michael is concerned by the effect of climate change: the chance to stop it was, according to his reading, lost in 2015, coincidentally the year that the climate accord was signed in Paris – I said Schrader was cynical. His attempts at eco-activism left him frustrated. After their first meeting, in which Toller tries to convince Michael to live with both hope and despair (‘you can’t have one without the other’), Mary calls Toller back to the house. She has discovered a suicide vest.

Toller has his own problems. He may have cancer. His marriage collapsed after he allowed his son, Joseph, to go to war in Iraq, where the young man died. Toller drinks to assuage his guilt. However, he performs his religious duties diligently, tidying up the gravestones in the churchyard and participating in a conversation with young Christians in the nearby Abundant Life 5,000-seater worship complex – a religious shopping mall to Toller’s corner shop.

Toller’s attempt to minister to Michael doesn’t end well. He finds himself on a collision course with polluting industrialist Edward Balq (Michael Gaston), who represents big business’ indifference to the destruction of the planet.

The film recalls, in very direct fashion, Schrader’s iconic screenplay for Taxi Driver, in which ‘God’s lonely man’, Travis Bickle (Robert de Niro) took on a politician, Charles Palantine (Leonard Harris) before re-focussing his efforts more locally. You work out pretty early on what the climax will be – it builds to the re-consecration of First Reformed church. Yet there is something inevitable – Schrader-like – in how the action pans out.

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The film’s biggest surprise is Hawke, who gives a thoroughly controlled, interior performance. He has to pull off a scene in which he lies, fully clothed, on top of another person in an act of homage – I won’t explain it further – and convinces completely. He is contrasted with Pastor Jeffers (Cedric Kyle aka Cedric the Entertainer) who complains that Toller ‘spends too much time in the garden’. Jeffers has embraced big business, but Balq is worried that Toller might give the re-consecration ceremony a political dimension.

The drama is riveting through its essential simplicity whilst still having something to say about considering how mankind will be judged for ruining the planet. Schrader encourages the audience to value hope and despair as a dual response to 21st Century challenges and offers his most engaged and engaging film in decades.


First Reformed is out on DVD & Blu-Ray now! 

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom – Review

The sequel to 2015 Jurassic World and the second in a planned trilogy, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom takes us back to the island that the dinosaurs now dominate. The disaster of the last film means the creatures roam free. Yet the island they call home is no longer safe, and a rescue mission is the only way to secure their survival.

Fallen Kingdom sees Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, B. D. Wong, and Jeff Goldblum all reprising their previous role and they are joined by newcomers James Cromwell, Rafe Spall, Toby Jones, and Ted Levine.

The latestl’ [ films may not have the classic appeal of the original, but this new offering delivers on action and suspense. Director Bayona adds brilliant horror elements and through the final act, takes the franchise in a new and interesting direction.

Set three years after the outbreak that destroyed Jurassic World. The dinosaurs have remained in the park, but the islands volcano is no longer dormant. Claire (Dallas-Howard) is now leader of the Dinosaur Protection Group and fighting to ensure the creatures survival. When an offer is made to rescue the dinosaurs and give them a new home, Claire enlists ex-flame and raptor expert Owen (Pratt) in going back to the island they once escaped. Yet is this offer too good to be true?

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This instalment is directed by Spanish filmmaker J.A. Bayona who is best known for directing horror classic The Orphanage, drama The Impossible, and fantasy A Monster Calls. Previous director, Colin Trevorrow, acts as producer and co-writer while original Jurassic mastermind Steven Spielberg still oversees as lead producer.

The film begins by taking us back to the now chaotic island. The constant threat of dinosaur attacks and action proves familiar, but enjoyable, territory. Yet this sequel explores the moral and emotional impact that creating life brings. Do the dinosaurs have rights and in creating them are we protectors? Or is the volcano resetting what should not have been done? Parallels to Frankenstein are not just in the director’s Gothic imagery but also the films themes. The emotional attachment to the dinosaurs is played up here and, honestly, there are a few hard hitting, sad moments. For the second half, the creatures are brought into our world, with a more The Lost World feel. The jumps still work, and danger is indeed, around every corner for the characters.

Director Bayona has indeed added his own signature style to this film. The Gothic elements and horror tropes add a flair to this film that has not seen before. The Lockwood estate acts as the haunted mansion of the film with its museum like basement and moonlight rooftop. Dinosaurs our silhouetted in front of the moon and shadows through spiral staircases give the film an individual look.

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This is a cheesy film though. It’s predictable and despite interesting visuals, it does not do anything new with the story. Things go wrong, and audiences will enjoy watching bad guy after bad guy picked off, in pretty gruesome ways. Nothing speical but this delivers what audiences have grown to love about the Jurassic franchise. The ending opens a new avenue for the third instalment and takes the franchise in an interesting direction.

No doubt that leads Dallas Howard and Pratt still have great chemistry on screen. The two this time round have a chance to develop their characters further. Claire feels more established with a new moral perspective, (and yes sensible shoes) while Owen grapples with his loyalty to creatures he helped train. Goldblum, despite receiving top bill, appears in a cool but cameo role. Rafe Spall, Tobey Jones, and Ted Levine are new villains who audiences will love to hate and pray for their well-deserved demise.

This may be a predictable entry to the Jurassic World franchise, but it delivers on suspense and action. A great addition and horror flair from its new director.


Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is out on DVD & Blu-Ray now! 

Adrift – Review

The sea is a harsh and cruel entity. We haven’t explored most of the deep blue that stretches for miles and miles across our world. Yet many tackle this wild and untamed ocean in hopes of discovery – whether that’s land, your true spirit, or even love.

But what happens when the sea becomes a nightmare?

Adrift revolves around the real life story of Tami Oldham and Richard Sharp. Enthusiastic travellers, the pair first meet in Tahiti and fall in love with one another. With Richard being an avid sailor and Tami keen to explore, they embark on a journey to deliver a 44 ft yacht to San Diego. However,  the pair sail straight into Hurricane Raymond. Tami awakens from the aftermath of the storm to see the boat in ruins and Richard badly injured. It is up to her, however, to find the strength and determination to guide them to land.

Directed by Baltasar Kormakur, who also directed other distressing factual films such as The Deep (2012) and Everest (2015), Adrift is a gripping movie. The great decision here, that propels it forward and adds needed depth is to focus mainly on the couple, rather than the disaster. In fact, the Hurriance is a minutia detail here, instead it is about how Tami builds up courage to steer them home as well as the delicate beginning of them falling in love with one another. Having this focus crafts a more sensitive centre and that makes it all the more engaging.

Adrift is helped by the performances. Shailene Woodley and Sam Claflin are impeccable together – their chemistry really drags you into this harrowing story as they bring these people to life on screen.  Claflin continues to be one of our best actors and every role he takes adds a new dimension to his talent and this is no different. However, quite rightly, this is Woodley’s film. My god does she have such a command of understand a character, a story, and the roller-coaster Tami is put upon. She truly gets underneath the layers. In wordless scenes, she grasps the weight of Oldham and it’s just breath-taking to watch her.

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The biggst problem with the film is the structure which mixes the aftermath of the hurriane with their tender first moments. The past and future  colliding  can befuddled . Admittedly, I believe this is going to split audiences. Some will find this non-linear structure distracting from the survival part of the story whilst other’s will see how it generates intimacy and delicacy and affect the film in a personal manner.

As always with true stories of survival, the centre of the film is Tami Oldham. The absolute ordeal she went through for 41 days is astonishing and her character is carried superbly by Woodley – a woman wrapped in empathy, freedom, and wildness caught on the vicious and brutal see.

Kormakur has crafted an emotive movie that has poignancy and soul that does justice to the real lives painfully etched upon the screen. Adrift is a worthwhile and harrowing experience with expert and powerful performances at the centre of it.


Adrift is out on DVD & Blu-Ray now 

You Were Never Really Here – Review

A bedraggled Joaquin Phoenix stands upon a train platform, shaded by the roof above him. The tracks stand lofty in the middle of New York City, traffic mills below him. Silent, stoic, stocky, Phoenix’s Joe steps out into blistering rays that illuminate his face. In the distance, a train judders towards the station. Contemplating whether to take that step, a fall into the sun-soaked suicide to end the scorpions in his mind, Joe peers round for witness and catches the battered bruised eye of woman onlooker. Seeing her, seeing him, pain and anguish shared upon that platform, Joe lurks back into his shadows.

Stuck inside this equilibrium, always on the brink of death yet pulled back by those in need, Joe is the epitome of an anti-hero in Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here. 

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Based on a book by Jonathon Ames, You Were Never Really Here is a noir thriller that digs into the pulp of our raw and unnerving hitman Joe. Ex-CIA officer, Joe is a hired hand, specialising in bringing kidnapped and trafficked children back to their parents. When a state senator requests his aid, Joe obliges but finds himself at the centre of a greater conspiracy. And whatever little scraps of his life are left are thrown into bloody turmoil.

You Were Never Really Here is Ramsay’s fourth feature film and her first since We Need to Talk About Kevin back in 2012. Coming back in a blaze of glory, her work on this brooding masterpiece that helped her scoop the Best Screenplay award at Cannes Film Festival.

Ramsay’s daring thriller is never the film you expect it to be (I’d even strike its comparisons to Taxi Driver off is remarks if I were so bold). Even on a second or third watch, details shift and change with viewings. This layered artwork is a meditative exploration of trauma and how it ripples with heated, furious emotion. Joe is encased in his shell – a reserved man blighted by his PTSD that we see in feverish shots and panic attacks. Extreme self-harm and rituals become his norm as he desperately seeks an exit from the pain and images blistering inside of him.

Yet he exudes care, particularly for his elderly and frail mother (played so wonderfully by Judith Roberts) and a yearning for redemption. Wading upwards towards the light through the drowning drudgery of the world, Joe seems to pursue justice. Not just for the young girls he saves, but for him-self; a young boy of abuse starring at him from the past.

This all boils inside Phoenix’s piercing and haunting blue eyes. The actor is triumphant here. One hopes that his work in this film continues to be studied. From his pursed lips that twist into violent outrages to his child-like utterances and soft tones to, his suicidal thoughts brewing under the surface, just beneath the flesh, Phoenix has terrific command of them all. This is Phoenix’s best performance, without a doubt, and this man of violence barely holding on becomes one of the best characters of 2018, if not of all time.

Ekaterina Samsonov, as Nina Votto is a brilliant near silent companion to Phoenix as the pair strike an unlikely friendship revolving around their shared history of maltreatment and neglect. Samsonov’s Nina is quiet but, like Joe, you see this sparks of power and control come to the forefront. Yet still, underneath the bloodshed, there is an innocence waiting to be nurtured by sunlight and care.

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Tom Townend’s immense cinematography and the gorgeous framing of the film adds a beautiful redolent depth to the look and feel of the film. Pirouetting dust on light that billows through trees add serenity to one scene whilst the raw black and white CCTV scenes grip in unpredictable violence. It’s gritty yet serene, unnerving yet enriching, tender yet brutal. The film ebbs is a morose and mournful soul encapsulated by so much colour and city-scape beauty.

Jonny Greenwood’s score is a reminder of this, shifting from jarring electronica to a violin symphony as the mood of the film similarly makes alterations. Thriving with unpredictability, Greenwood has a complete understanding of the story here and is aware as to which part of the score will make it tick – adding yet another electric charge to a movie already pulsating with energy.

You Were Never Really Here is an undeniable masterpiece. The film is a work of visceral art that swings as perturbingly as a hammer blow and as soft as a dying song.


You Were Never Really Here is available on Amazon Prime from 2nd November