Thunder Road – Review

If you’ve been around Twitter for just one iota, you’d have seen Jim Cummings tweets. Not that it is a bad thing – it’s actually really inspiring. As an independent filmmaker, armed with a loads of determination and a vision, Jim Cummings speaks passionately about picking up the camera, gathering whoever can help, and producing your own work without the influence of studios and Hollywood.

Because that’s exactly what he did with Thunder Road. His hard-work and talent certainly pays off in this outstanding film.

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Based on his award-winning short of the same name, Cumming’s stars, writes, and directs Thunder Road. The movie, based off of a Bruce Springsteen song revolves around Jim, a police officer who is going through the worst of times. After delivering a misguided eulogy at his mother’s funeral, and attacking a man whilst trying to arrest him, those around him start to worry about his mental state. It worsens when his ex-wife Crystal serves him with divorce papers and battles with him over custody of their young daughter. On the verge of a break-down, can Jim pull himself together for those around him and most importantly, himself?

Acting, directing, writing, producing, and basically having a hand in every department, Jim Cummings has put his heart into Thunder Road and the pay-off is electric. His biggest strength here is certainly his performance. Especially at the beginning of the film – the epitomes breakdown at the funeral is simply breath-taking as Jim fluidly changes demeanour from trying to keep himself together to feeling the full impact of grief. His need to keep himself calm actually pushes him to breaking point and that is wonderfully fleshed out by Cummings.

Thunder Road is also greatly shot – bringing the aching and sad beauty of the small town life to the big screen.

Whilst there is a lot to enjoy with Thunder Road, the story lacks a certain cohesion that makes powerful emotional moments land. There’s a death and reaction that has no set-up or conversation. One can read that this is part of the chaotic nature of the breakdown and how life gives no rhyme to throwing obstacles in your path but at times it just didn’t land as perfectly as it should.

Image result for Thunder RoadThe biggest problem with this is that there is a huge story-line that could’ve been explored better and that’s the custody battle. Framing Jim’s funeral breakdown as the reason to take his child away from him and into the arms of a careless mother is a spectacular storyline that has a lot of potential. It just isn’t explored that well here, which is somewhat frustrating.

That being said Thunder Road is a terrific exercise in putting all your might behind a project and seeing it come into great fruition. Jim Cummings is an adept director and performer. When film hits the right spots, it is a visceral and poignant movie that delves deep into the psyche of our leading character. Darkly comic but also highly emotive, Thunder Road is a must-see watch.


Thunder Road is out 31st May! 

Blinded By The Light – Brand New Trailer!

Music can change, inspire, and evolve someone to the person. That’s the story in the glorious Blinded by the Light! 

Based on the memoirs of Sarfraz Manzoor’s, the film revolves around a teenager who finds his own voice through the words and music of Bruce Springsteen.

The trailer starts out quite uninteresting but when the music and the fantasy hits, it becomes terrific and is now one of my most anticipated movies.


Blinded by the Light is out August 9th 

Destroyer – Review

Nicole Kidman has had a long history of transforming in her roles. From her Academy Award winning performance in Hours saw her wear a crooked prosthetic nose to her scruffy look for The Paperboy,

Look at her gaunt and sunken face in the brittle Destroyer, it looks as though Kidman goes to great lengths for this gritty thriller.

Directed by Karyn Kusama, who also gave us phenomenal films such as  The Invitation and Jennifer’s Body, the film revolves around LAPD detective Erin Bell. When she was young, she was placed undercover with a gang of grungy bank thieves. However, the whole operation went haywire and now Erin suffers from the consequences. Alcoholic, gruff, and estranged from her daughter, when a murder arrives on her beat

Like a combination between True Detective and Point Break, Destroyer is a formidable piece of work that is anchored by Kidman’s gruelling performance. It really is the actress who keeps this piece moving and, in a similar way to Atomic Blonde, when she takes the punches, she truly takes the punches. She is affected by everything and Kidman makes us feel every bruise. There’s great support from Sebastian Stan and Tatiana Masalany but Bradley Whitford’s performance is the true scene-stealer here as a pompous and crooked lawyer.

Nicole Kidman in Destroyer

Toby Kebbell’s villainous Silas should stalk the whole film. His menace or craze should be haunting, just as Kidman’s Erin is stalked by the mere thought of him. But he is barely seen and underused (as per the norm in Kebbell’s portfolio.) With a ridiculous hairstyle reminiscent of a Charmed villain, It’s a shame because the film has to have Erin brood on a proper monster of a man but, instead, it never comes to fruition.

Karyn Kusama’s previous work The Invitation was an adept and different look at the horror/thriller genre but with Destroyer, it feels like a step back because there is a lack of originality. The story does twist in an unpredictable manner and is shot gorgeously but then falls back on usual clichés. For once it would be nice to see a film with a detective who isn’t gruff nor an alcoholic but still has the battle the seedy underground. The genre-tropes, much like the punches, are felt here.

It is the same with the music. Theodore Shapiro’s score is reminiscent of Johnny Greenwood’s for You Were Never Really Here which gives it this generic feel. Synth heavy night time scenes with some softer violins – it’s like composers have the archetype and it doesn’t feel original in Destroyer. That being said, the sound design is impeccable and every crunch of bone upon bone

Overall, the film is a good maudlin police drama where you are gripped enough to follow the story to the bitter end. There are some absolute gorgeous scenes here including a snow-scape that is one of the most beautiful shots I’ve seen. Kidman goes to massive depths in order to transform into this character and it shows here. Though the film may feel somewhat predictable in places, the emotional and physical heft that Kidman goes through is enough to keep you invested.


Destroyer is out on DVD & Blu-Ray now! 

Booksmart – Review

Occasionally there is a film that not only meets the hype surrounding it but surpasses it gleefully. Booksmart is one of those movies that has been receiving positive criticism all-around and it deserves every single iota of praise it is getting.

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Directed by Olivia Wilde, the film revolves around Amy and Molly, two over-achieving best friends who have been ousted to the outskirts of their school society because they are deemed pretentious. Not really bothered as they chose to focus on their academia than their social life. However, when they find out the students they considered burn-outs have also gotten into prestigious schools, they are aghast, realising that whilst they focused on school, they could have also been focussing on partying. So in a last ditch attempt before graduation, the pair decide to have one night of debauchery…

Booksmart is one of the funniest movies you’ll see all year. In fact, it’ll probably go down as one of the most hilarious teen movies of all-time. Happily rubbing shoulders with movies such as Superbad, Dazed and Confused, and American Graffiti –the “one night is all it takes” comedic outing is an energetic piece that is a riotous ride. Written by Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, Susanna Fogel, and Katie Silberman, the movie is a snappy and funny film that’ll have you laughing until you cry. With comedy ranging from the raunchy to the weird, Booksmart hits joke after joke.

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Which makes all the emotional moments hit harder. The script is succinct in delivering some teenage antics but also at bringing a soul to it. Amy and Molly fight, they feel sad, and their earnest need to finally let lose is unforgettable – especially for anyone who has felt ostracised by their peers. There are key messages of not losing your childhood and your fun in the pursuit of academia, learning to find balance in all areas. Not only that, but there is a stark message of discovering the person underneath the teenage stereotypes – from both the nerdy side and the burnout side.

Olivia Wilde’s confident directorial debut is rambunctious. Wilde commands the screen and in moments of heightened emotions, she fluidly manoeuvres the camera and scene so the beats truly sink in. Wilde may take the film to some superbly surreal places (a stop-motion scene is perhaps the only disjointed, but she knows how to bring it back down to earth.

Booksmart works best because our leading ladies are so incredible in their performances. Kaitlyn Dever as Amy and Beanie Feldstein as Molly flesh out these young women immensely. As actresses who have already proven their substantial talent in films such as Beautiful Boy and Lady Bird, giving them a whole film to showcase just how phenomenal they are is fantastic. And with a movie this genius? Downright amazing. Alone, they are amazing characters – intelligent, determined, strong-willed, and adoring of one another. Put them together and you’ve got one of cinemas greatest relationships on the big screen.

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The ensemble cast behind them are terrific too, from young actors such as Noah Galvin and Skyler Gisondo to more established folk such as Jason Sudeikis and Lisa Kudrow. But MVP of the whole movie goes to Billie Lourd who is the resident mysterious weirdo, popping up to give the girls advice.

Booksmart is a must-see. It’s a movie for the smart girls who are also the fun girls. It’s a film about accepting every part of you and being true to yourself. It’s also exceptionally funny.

A-pluses all around!


Booksmart is out Monday 27th May! 

Terminator: Dark Fate – Brand New Trailer!

Terminator has gone from an incredible couple of films to a dire selection of them. Ever since T2, we’ve had some disastrous entries into the Machine vs Man lore!

But we’re still getting more. Now we have Terminator Dark Fate!

The movie revolves around a fight for survival against well…machine and man.

Look, sometimes trailers sell you on one particular element. This trailer has two. One of them is the phenomenal MacKenzie Davies who can do no wrong. The second of them is they used a cover of Bjork’s Hunter in the trailer.

Sign me the fuck up!


Terminator: Dark Fate is out in cinemas November. 

Rocketman – Review

Regardless of your taste in music, you would be hard pressed to find someone who does not love at least one Elton John song. The musical icon has been dominating the charts since the 1970s with his flamboyant image, musical genius, and larger than life persona.

Image result for rocketmanRocketman, named after one of the artists many hit songs, aims to tell the tale of the man behind the music. Starring Taron Egerton (Kingsman, Eddie the Eagle) as John alongside Jamie Bell, Bryce Dallace Howard, and Richard Madden, the film covers his childhood, rise to fame and later battles with drugs and alcohol. Despite its stellar lead performance and visual brilliance, the film never really reaches its potential with a weak, told-before narrative.

The film charts the life of John from humble beginnings in London, England to studying music and becoming the keyboardist for a soul band. After a chance meeting with lyricist Bernie Taupin, the pair embark on a musical partnership. From here fame, fortune, men, depression and drugs encapsulate Elton’s life. All the while John faces the trauma of his true sexual orientation and his difficult family.

The idea of a John biopic has been floating around for years. Some might remember Justin Timberlake being cast in an earlier draft. Here British independent filmmaker Dexter Fletcher takes the director’s chair. For the biopic musically trained Egerton has performed all of John’s music himself which only adds to his performance and the film.

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Beginning with John’s childhood, born Reginald Dwight in Pinner. At a young age he displayed musical talent and attends the Royal Academy of Music as a pianist. His talent is recognised when he partners with lyricist Bernie Taupin and together the two move to America and dominate the music industry. This is a rise and fall story with the added benefit of world class music.

The story is basic and never the element that holds your attention. It’s also very cliched and predictable. Even those not aware of Elton John (where have you been) will see where his story is going or how a character will effect him before it happens.

John himself had a large influence over the film and perhaps his input has steered the film in a safer direction. For all the film’s drug taking, gay sex and temper tantrums it always tries to justify the actions of its lead through extenuating circumstances. The emotionless father, the neglectful mother or the power hungry lover. It skims over less flattering elements of his life, such as his marriage to a female secretary. These gaps are felt and leave the film flat where deeper understanding could have been.

The film carries so many of the more stylistic quirks of Fletcher as a director. The flying musical scene, the under water breakdown sequence and the trip from the ambulance to stage via song. It’s all here and jumps from the screen. Fletcher’s style feels so at home next to an icon like John who has always been a visual performer alongside his musical work. Fletcher has also made sure the film carries humour amongst the music and trauma.

Image result for rocketmanRegardless of how you view the film and it’s story, there is little doubt that Taron Egerton is fantastic as the musical Icon. Flamboyant and exuberant his gives everything to the icon even when the material fails him. His performance captures the larger than life aura of the character while still displaying his struggles.

Richard Madden plays lover John Reid. Despite his strong presence, he is not given enough to work with and becomes the pantomime villain of the film. Jamie Bell plays John’s long suffering partner and best friend Bernie Taupin. Again although there are some touching scenes that explore their relationship, he is never fleshed out as more than just a plot point.

The long developed biopic of Elton John falls into safe, cliched territory. Yet the film is lifted by its cast, the music and the quirks of its director.


Rocketman is out in cinemas now! 

Talking Movies and Making Them Too