Talking movies, music and other close encounters of the social media kind.
THE LAST JEDI
Seemed appropriate that the last movie I watched for 2017 was… The Last Jedi.
But sadly, it did not leave a lasting impression on me.
At times I felt like I was watching one of those dreadful George Lucas prequels.
Luke Skywalker is a bit of a recluse – and for most of the film he’s just moaning about how he stuffed the whole jedi universe all up. Despite his lacklustre demeanour it’s still great to see Mark Hamill play an older but bitter Skywalker, and give the much needed gravitas that’s needed for this film.
But some parts of this film for me, did not work at all.
When Princess Leia decides to wake up in outer space and travel across space, after she was blown out of her star cruiser, that scene I totally cringed (sorry Carrie Fisher may she rest in peace).
That particular scene as well as others, for me, did not feel like a Star Wars film. It’s a gamble that director Rhiann Johnson takes, and I don’t think he’s succeeded.
Despite that there were some good moments – Oscar Isaacs as Fighter Pilot Cameron Poe gets the right amount of Harrison Ford Han Solo swagger that’s needed in this loose end instalment.
And the lightsaber tag-team battle of Raye & Kylo Ren as they join forces to fight off the First Order against a blood-red backdrop is viciously savage and beautiful.
But overall, this is a much weaker film than The Force Awakens and Director Rhiann Johnson seems to try too hard to answer to the fans, as well as try and add some new elements and adhere to a younger audience. It all ends up as a bit of a mix bag that doesn’t quite work.
ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD
The first film I watched for 2018 is set back in 1973, and is a disturbing look into how rich people can be pretty evil – based on the true story of the kidnapping of the son of Oil Baron J Paul Getty – who at the time was the richest man in the world.
There was a lot of media hype with this film as Kevin Spacey had played the role of Getty, but after the sexual assault allegations – director Ridley Scott erased his entire performance and brought in old timer Christopher Plummer to take his place. 9 days of re-shoots later, we get this version.
In the reliable hands of director Ridley Scott – this story takes flight with beautiful cinematography from Darius Wolkski – showcasing Rome, Jordan and London, and the cast are stoic if not solid.
Christopher Plummer as Getty gives the ‘old rich man gone bad-ass’ much needed weight. So good is he that he’s nominated for an Oscar this year. Not bad for just 9 days work. Mark Wahlberg is solid too, but seriously miscast for the role of Ex CIA security consultant (I could easily see Matt Damon in this role instead).
But it’s Michelle Williams who plays the gritty and determined mother to try anything to get her son back, against the wishes of Getty who steals the film from everyone with her commanding performance.
With the slow-burn pace of a classic 70’s thriller, and the sumptuous imagery of Europe through the lens of Darius Wolski and the artist’s eye of master Ridley Scott – I actually enjoyed watching this film – despite it’s lukewarm reviews. Empire Magazine only gave it two stars.
But for my money – it’s worth a look.
Get Steven Spielberg together with Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks – add an intriguing story about a important moment in history, and you get this slickly polished film.
The Post tells the true story of Katharine Graham who is the first woman to own a Newspaper publication – the Washington Post. She’s more a political socialite than a political reporter, and during the film must decide between staying friends with her government buddies or reporting against them after finding the secret Pentagon papers – where the Editor-In-Chief of the Washington Post Ben Bradlee (played by a grizzly Tom Hanks) wants the papers published – even though by exposing the Pentagon Papers to the public, they would be indighted by President Nixon and stand in front of the Supreme Court.
It’s a great yarn and is well executed – and a great companion piece to the classic 1976 movie All The President’s Men.
If anything – the timing for this film couldn’t be any better. With the advent of ‘fake news’ and trump tweets, it’s always good to see films like this, which go back to a time when investigative journalism was a a much needed social good – making sure Governments and Corprations were kept in check.
My previous blog review of the movie Spotlight touches on this.
The Post is another film in that stable.
Bring on more of these types of films I say.
THE DARKEST HOUR
Gary Oldman will win the Oscar for Best Actor at this year’s Academy Awards.
It’s a done deal.
Well, he better.
His fiery portrayal of the old British Bulldog Winston Churchill burns up the big screen, and it’s just wonderful to see. Director Joe Wright does a great job showing 1940s London and the weeks leading up to Churchill taking up the PM’s job right through to his handling of Adolf Hitler and the German advance through Europe.
As always the British film production are on point and the supporting cast are stellar; Kirstin Scott Thomas is sharp and witty playing Churchill’s wife, and Lilly James shines portraying Churchill’s secretary. Stephen Dillane is always good as he plays the scheming Lord Hailfax, but it’s Ben Mendelsohn portrayal of King George that’s an added surprise (Colin Firth also played King George in the movie The King’s Speech). His scenes with Oldman are great to watch.
But this movie is all about Gary Oldman – who with the make up and prosthetics, grabs the movie by the scruff of the neck and never lets go – delivering Churchill’s famous speeches with the verve, gusto and gravitas that’s needed.
If ever there was a great actor who should win an Oscar, Gary is the one.
And Daniel Day Lewis has won enough already (the greedy man).
THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING MISSOURI
Straight out of a Coen Brothers crime film, I felt like I was watching a modern day Western. And a really good one. The movie is set in a small town, and comes with a good sheriff, a crooked deputy and a heroine who’s hell-bent on revenge after the brutal rape and death of her daughter.
Three Billboards sets scenes that seem to boil with a under-current of violence – but it’s the screenplay with its funny, razor-edged dialogue that’s quick-on-the-draw and goes out with all guns firing, with two powerful performances from Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell – with solid support from Woody Harrelson as the good Sheriff with a bad condition.
It certainly doesn’t play like a conventional film and director Martin McDonagh (who also directed the brilliant In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths) keeps you guessing on what the final outcome will be for these wonderfully-written characters.
I’m not going to say anything more about this film – just go see it. It’s brilliant and deserves all the awards it gets.