DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES

2014; directed by Matt Reeves; adapted by Mark Bomback, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver; 124 mins

An ape on horseback brandishing a machine gun has got to be one of the most striking images ever projected onto a cinema screen. In 1968, Franklin J. Schaffner presented us with a crash-zoom of said image and 46 years later, the effect remains undiminished. This, in part, is as much down to Matt Reeves‘ fastidiously intelligent approach to making us understand the anger of the apes as it is the seamless motion-capture performances by Andy Serkis, Toby Kebbell, [et al] exuding a real sense of physical threat. Is this the best of all the apes films? I think it has a very strong case to put forward because, whilst not without it’s flaws, it is the film that puts the most in and gives the most back. Continue reading

BLOOD FATHER

2016; directed by Jean-François Richet; adapted by Andrea Berloff and Peter Craig; 88 mins

In my new capacity as a broadcasting film critic, I had to catch up with everything that was on at the cinemas. Two films that were out were Clint Eastwood’s Sully and Blood Father. One is a serious, Oscar contending biopic about an average American hero’s triumph over adversity with a multiple-Academy-Award-winning team behind it and the other is a down and dirty, scuzzy, B-movie action thriller whose only selling point is it’s disgraced leading man. One of them was smart, witty, well made, moving and engaging. It wasn’t Sully. Continue reading

DJANGO KILL… IF YOU LIVE, SHOOT!

1967; directed by Giulio Questi; written by Franco Arcalli, Benedetto Benedetti and Giulio Questi; 117 mins

Well, first things first – it’s not a Django movie. The title was tacked on after the success of Sergio Corbucci’s smash hit original in the hopes that it would soak up some of that audience. What it is is a bizarre, vicious tale about one-time gang member, The Stranger who, after helping to steal gold from Union troops, is betrayed by leader Oaks and left for dead. Mysteriously, he survives and is rescued by a couple of Native Americans whilst his executioners are themselves summarily executed when they enter a weird town populated by fucked up yokels! Once on his feet, The Stranger makes his way to the town and finds himself caught between the warring factions of priest (Hagerman), bar owner (Templer) and gang boss (Sorrow) all vying for the stolen gold. Continue reading

’71

2014; directed by Yann Demange; written by Gregory Burke; 95 mins

An excellent mid-point between Alan Clarke’s Elephant, Paul Greengrass’ Bloody Sunday and John Carpenter’s Escape From New York, ’71 is a film that makes a strong case against the argument that genre films cannot or should not tackle tragic subjects. Set in Belfast during The Troubles, a young squaddie, Gary Hook, is left behind enemy lines when a brutal house inspection sparks a riot in the streets. Abandoned by his unit, he has no choice but to sneak his way back to the barracks in the dead of night, amidst rioting, plotting and suburban nightlife. Fully aware that the IRA are after him but unaware that some of the Brits are too… Continue reading

JASON BOURNE

2016; directed by Paul Greengrass; adapted by Paul Greengrass and Christopher Rouse; 123 mins

Look at Matt Damon‘s face in this movie and see how far he has come as a movie star and as a screen presence since The Bourne Identity. In Identity, he is a blank face, totally unaware of his past and so his casting was perfect, helped by the fresh face Damon had back then when he was still very much seen as a pretty-boy rather than an actor. Now, 14 years have past, we look at Jason Bourne and he has weight on his shoulders, not just due to his being built like brick shithouse but because of the traumas we have seen and those we haven’t. Continue reading

PLANET OF THE APES: RETROSPECTIVE

planetoftheapes1-1024x436

Planet of the Apes (1968) Franklin J. Schaffner

Chuck Heston, though a tad saggy, gives us a good old-fashioned American hero to root for in no-nonsense astronaut, George Taylor, as he finds himself stranded on the titular planet. We know most the story beats – the reveal of the apes, the Statue of Liberty, etc – but amazingly, it all still holds up! But despite knowing most of the movie’s big twists, we settle into the story and really get to grips with the drama. Continue reading

THE INGLORIOUS BASTARDS (1978) Enzo G. Castellari

the-inglorious-bastards

[SPOILERS! Sorry]

The more I watched Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, the more the cracks showed. First time, it was great, fifth or sixth time… not so. Firstly, the long stretches of tedious discourse on movies (symptomatic of the many issues with his worst film, Death Proof) and the variable performances (I like Brad Pitt but Aldo Raine is pretty ropey and Eli Roth is fucking shit in it). Secondly – and possibly more importantly – this seemed to be at the nadir of his appropriation of other people’s work. He has always been a pastiche-y director and loves to reference other directors’ work and that’s fine. Continue reading