Black Hawk Down
produced and directed by Ridley Scott.
It was based on the 1999 book of the same name by journalist Mark Bowden, about the 1993 Battle of Mogadishu. During the operation, two U.S. Black Hawk helicopters were shot down by RPGs and three others were damaged. Some of the wounded survivors were able to evacuate to the compound, but others remained near the crash sites and were isolated. An urban battle ensued and continued throughout the night. The movie features a large ensemble cast, including Josh Hartnett, Ewan McGregor, Eric Bana, Tom Sizemore, William Fichtner, Sam Shepard and Tom Hardy in his first film role. With a runtime of 2hrs 24min, The movie doesn’t waste any time getting started and keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout. What makes the movie so intense is the fact that it’s based on real events and it doesn’t hide the grim and frightening events that took place.
1A-MSTM Rating 8/10
Review by DC
This film is semi based on the story of Eminem, played by Eminem as an aspiring rapper looking to get himself out of the ghetto through using his rap skills to rise to the top of through rap battles. And overcoming his initial shyness to rap to being a successful rapper. Written by Curtis Hanson. It has a great storyline and some excellent rap tunes . It’s a highly charged film with some hard hitting language a great cast and shows how life can be tough but you can get to be the best in your game with hard work , dedication and self belief. .
1A-MSTM Rating 8/10 for gripping story line
Review by A Walker
Rambo: Last Blood
Directed by Adrian Grunberg,Screenplay by Matthew Cirulnick and Sylvester Stallone.
Last Blood picks up 11 years after the previous movie, we find Rambo still living at his now deceased fathers ranch with an old friend (strange that he had nobody left in the world in previous movies) and her Grand daughter Gabriela. The Rambo character seems very different to how we remember him in the previous movies as he’s transformed from the hurting POW to a almost normal guy with feelings. The only strange thing is a series of tunnels he’s dug out under the ranch which is pretty much unexplained. As the plot unfolds Gabriela secretly travels to Mexico to find her biological father who had abandoned her years ago. This ends up going bad pretty quick and she is kidnapped by a Mexican cartel and constantly drugged and sold to be raped repeatedly. Rambo makes his way to mexico looking for Gabriela and finds the Cartel but gets badly beaten by them and left for dead. From this point of the movie it plays out like a typical Rocky movie, He heals, sets up a revisit to the Cartel and then we head to the final showdown. The truth is it took the best part of 70 minutes for any serious action to happen and that was more like a compilation of how many nasty ways you can kill the bad guys. All in all Rambo:Last Blood was a great example of a movie series going just that one movie too far.It didn’t feel like a Rambo movie,The make up (after his beating) looked really poor and the character just seemed so far removed from any previous entry in the series.
1A-MSTM Rating 3/10
Review by DC
The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films (2014).
If you were teenager during the early 80’s this documentary will be a must for you. Back in the early 80’s Home video rental went through the roof and Cannon/Golan Globas movies seemed to be released every couple of weeks. The studio was well known for releasing crap/poor movies or sequals including:
Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold
Breakin’ (Breakdance The Movie)
Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo (BreakDance 2)
Death Wish II
Death Wish 3
Death Wish 4: The Crackdown
The Delta Force
Enter the Ninja
Revenge of the Ninja
Ninja III: The Domination
King Solomon’s Mines
The Last American Virgin
Masters of the Universe
Missing in Action
Missing in Action 2: The Beginning
Over the Top
Just to name a few !!!.
This documentary will amaze the kids of the 80’s but just general movie lovers will be stunned to see how these guys made Cannon such a huge business and ended up going bust by 1988.
1A-MSTM Rating 10/10
Review by DC
When it comes to war movies, there’s plenty about World War II but far, far less when it comes to chronicling its bloody predecessor. What exists is pretty rich and powerful, including classics such as “All Quiet on the Western Front” (1930), “Gallipoli” (1981, and a classic!) and “Paths of Glory” (1957), which all captured the barbaric horror of trench warfare – inhumane hellholes of mass slaughter where heroics were measured by the last man standing. A couple of years ago, Peter Jackson fittingly embraced those lost heroes with the cinematic ode “They Shall Not Grow Old,” the “Lord of the Rings” director’s first documentary; and looking to add to that list, director Sam Mendes (“American Beauty” and “Skyfall”) drops a taut, fast-paced shot of adrenaline on us in “1917,” which might not be long on plot, but pins you to the edge effectively as the clock ticks and ordinance explodes overhead.
Much will be made about the long-shot cinematography by Roger Deakins (“Fargo” and an Oscar winner for “Blade Runner 2049”). It’s absolutely brilliant, and any of those pooh-poohing it as a gimmick likely don’t understand the technical complexity involved. Deakins’ artistry gets put on display from frame one as we meet up with young lance corporals Schofield (George MacKay) and Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) lazing wearily in a field. Brought bleary-eyed before their C.O., they’re ordered to deliver a message to another allied outpost several clicks away: The grim circumstance of the situation is that communications are down, and if they fail to make the drop before the next sunrise, some 1,600 British soldiers will march into a trap and be slaughtered. Blake’s brother, as we’re informed, is among the unaware – the sense of urgency’s not just paramount, its personal.
From that brief, officious interlude, we’re off, following the lads down into the trenches, through the bomb burst, across the wire and into German-controlled French countryside. Along the way, mangled corpses hang from barbed wire entanglements and bob in the mud pits and streams they must cross. Then there’s the close encounters with the enemy, including the pilot of a downed biplane, when a brief moment of humanity turns deadly. The whole harrowing ordeal unfurls in real time, with the two constantly flushed, harried and under fire. In its pressure-cooked pace, “1917” invokes the same fraught “what could possibly go wrong next?” anxiousness that “Uncut Gems” rattled us with just weeks ago.
1A-MSTM Rating 8.5/10
It feels somewhat weird that this boldly minted Miramax offering from Guy Ritchie hits theaters just as the Harvey Weinstein trial kicks off in New York. Miramax, for those with short-term memories, was the studio Harvey and his brother founded back in 1979. The name remains synonymous with the notorious abuser, which is why in Ritchie’s return to the British gangster romp it’s so strange to see the moniker not only up there in lights, but as part of the plot. Perhaps the studio thought of it as something of a whitewash, but the timing makes the connection just too hard to shake.
That bit of ignominious history aside, “The Gentlemen” is quite entertaining, sharper and more focused than Ritchie’s “RocknRolla” (2008) though not in the same class as “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” (1998) or “Snatch” (2000). (Also hard to believe Ritchie just helmed the recent “Aladdin” adaptation). The ensemble here is a stroke of genius, with Matthew McConaughey as Mickey Pearson, an American transplant who runs a half-billion-dollar cannabis operation, Hugh Grant owning the picture as a conniving P.I. and aspiring screenwriter named Fletcher and hunky hot ticket Henry Golding as Dry Eye, a foot soldier with big ambitions. Then there’s Colin Farrell as “Coach,” a saucy sort who runs an inner-city gym, and Charlie Hunnam as Ray, Mickey’s fixer. The uber-twisted plot essentially rides on the rails of Mickey in the process of selling his business (because of his criminal past, when weed goes legal he likely won’t get a seat at the table) to a fellow American (Jeremy Strong). From there, the chess match of double dealings and plots within plots spews forth, the whole endeavor framed brilliantly by some deliciously dicey dialogue between Fletcher and Ray over a few bottles of scotch and Wagyu steak – what’s that in your freezer, the son of a Russian oligarch?
The wild weave has some excitable highs – the hip-hop viral video of some of Coach’s kids laying a beatdown on a few of Mickey’s crew and Ray’s visit to a junkie’s den – but some of the orchestration feels far too enamored with itself and goes on too long. Cards are dealt and flipped, yet Ritchie keeps dealing. The bulk of the film hangs on McConaughey’s kingpin and his brash wife (Michelle Dockery), who runs an all-woman, luxury auto shop. But the characters that give the film soul and pop are the ones operating in the background, namely Fletcher, Coach and Ray. Grant’s wormy portrayal is so spot on but off-key for the actor that it’s blinding at first. (Ritchie unfortunately overplays the gift hand toward the end.) Farrell’s clean-cut, resourceful boxing honcho, however, is meted in just the right amount, including the unsavory deployment of a swine to win a point. Ray, for the most, emerges slowly but is the chap we get to know most intimately. He’s the film’s real hero. Golding, so promising in “Crazy Rich Asians” and “A Simple Favor” (both 2018), tries a changeup here, but for the most comes off as a pat, sneering fly in the ointment.
1A-MSTM Rating 8/10
If you’re concerned about the lack of original movies at the cinemas these days, you absolutely should be paying The Lighthouse a visit. Originally inspired by Edgar Allen Poe’s unfinished short story The Light-House, Robert Eggers’s second movie (after the outstanding The Witch) fittingly morphed into its own beast that doesn’t resemble the short story at all. Instead, what the director has cooked up with his brother Max is a two-hander about a duo of lighthouse keepers who slowly go mad when a storm leaves them stranded. Oh, and there’s an one-eyed seabird hanging around too. That’s really about it for the plot of The Lighthouse, but Eggers makes up for the slight nature of the setup with a dizzying blend of horror, dark comedy, tense psychological drama and fantasy that will keep you captivated. Key to it all is the unforgettable performances by Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe that rank among both of their best-ever. Pattinson’s Ephraim Winslow is the put-upon apprentice who gets the rough end of the deal, bossed around thanklessly by Dafoe’s veteran lighthouse keeper Thomas Wake, who refuses to let Winslow near the lighthouse’s lantern. Wake’s former apprentice apparently went mad and died, but as the events of The Lighthouse pan out, both Winslow – and the audience – are left unsure of whether Wake made them mad or the lighthouse itself. So much of The Lighthouse‘s success rides on the two performances given that it really is a two-hander. Valeriia Karamän pops up every now and then as a mermaid (naturally) and the one-eyed seabird plays a critical role, but the movie is really a showcase for Pattinson and Dafoe. The two sink their teeth into the 19th century dialogue and New England dialect, with Dafoe in particular getting some wonderful monologues including one about Wake’s cooking that, in an ideal world, would have been his Oscar clip. And though Dafoe gets the showier role, Pattinson is equally impressive as he plays out Winslow’s descent into (possible) madness. It’s a fully committed performance that sees him, among other things, masturbating over a mermaid carving and wandering around naked. Whether they’re bickering, getting drunk, singing sea shanties or just farting (yes, really), Pattinson and Dafoe make for a magnetic duo. In keeping with the 19th century setting, Eggers chose to shoot in an almost-square 1.19:1 aspect ratio and in black-and-white. It means that the look of the movie is as unique as the content, with some truly striking and unforgettable imagery. Some might dismiss it as arthouse style over substance, but it really adds to the experience of the movie. The compact screen makes you feel trapped in the lighthouse with them, adding to the atmosphere. If there’s a complaint to be had, it’s that the thin plot is highlighted by the slow pacing at times, especially in the first half. There’s nothing wrong with building the sense of repetition in the lighthouse, but it doesn’t make for entirely interesting viewing. Things ramp up in the second half and it’s here where The Lighthouse fully immerses you, even if you’re left frustrated by its refusal to resolve any mysteries it hints at once the bold climax hits. That’s not enough to stop The Lighthouse from being a unique viewing experience though, although it might put you off visiting the seaside anytime soon.
Director: Robert Eggers; Starring: Robert Pattinson, Willem Dafoe, Valeriia Karamän; Running time: 109 minutes; Certificate: 15
1A-MSTM Rating 8/10
Birds of Prey
Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn had one long shadow out of which it needed to step: Suicide Squad. The movie, which gifted us with Harley Quinn, also gave her the albatross of a relationship with Joker and a subpar film through which her backstory was told. Now it’s 2020, and this year belongs to the Birds of Prey. As was revealed in the trailer, the story follows Harley Quinn in the aftermath of her explosive break-up with the Joker. When Roman Sionis, aka Black Mask, places a hit on the young Cassandra Cain, Gotham City’s worst turn the city upside down looking for her. Out of necessity, Harley joins forces with Dinah Lance, Helena Bertinelli, and Renee Montoya in order to protect the girl and defeat Black Mask once and for all. We use the word ‘necessity’ because this is definitely not a “girl power” film. These women aren’t banding together out of a shared, well, anything – they just need to survive, or as Harley says, get their emancipation. And oh boy, do they ever. The film does well with the arduous task of explaining how we got where we are without being boring if you’ve already seen Suicide Squad. And if this is your first foray into the bizarre world Harley inhabits, you won’t be disappointed. As the trailers indicated, the movie is definitely Harley’s show, but that doesn’t mean the other stars get the short shrift. Each character gets their action-filled background explained without being weighed down by a “now for some exposition!” moment. Those fretting that an all-women action movie would be dull (a baseless fear anyway) will be relieved to know that the action is as explosive as the trailer makes out. Birds of Prey is choreographed with its specific characters in mind – ie women. Things that might be a disadvantage are turned into strengths through the choreography. Each woman has their own unique skill set and way of fighting that feels realistic both to their being women, and because there is actual human effort put into the incredible stunts. And speaking of each woman, it’s impossible to make a movie – especially a superhero movie – starring women without wading into misogynistic waters. Twitter has been rife with commentary around about the sex appeal – or lack thereof – of the characters. The “defence” of this clearly sexist argument (since when do women have to be ‘sexy’ to be… anything?) is that women want sex appeal in their films just as much as men. This isn’t wrong (eye candy of all types is appreciated), but it also ignores the fact that this film has four exceptionally talented, strong, conflicted, nuanced, and, yes, beautiful women at its core (plus a child, so like… remember that when you start talking about sex appeal in Birds of Prey, everyone.) A foil for Birds of Prey is, as unlikely as it may seem, Charlie’s Angels. Despite how much we enjoyed it, the Kristen Stewart reboot didn’t do well at the box office in part due to the “social justice” marketing angle that obscured the movie’s humour and action. Birds of Prey seems to have learned from that mistake, and though the movie is clearly about women teaming up, neither the marketing nor the film leans on feminism as a ploy or its perceived sole draw. It is first and foremost a neon-blood-soaked, funny, violent, anti-hero caper that stars women. But wait, there’s more! It was directed by a woman and the screenplay was written by a woman. These factors mean Birds of Prey inherently carries a base level of authenticity without being heavy-handed, and the male gaze is happily obliterated in a technicolour firework display. And there’s another thing to remember if you think Birds of Prey has suddenly gone “woke”…
It’s a DC Comics movie! There’s a hyena named after Batman in it! The movie stars women and is uproariously fun.
Director: Cathy Yan Starring: Margot Robbie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Rosie Perez, Chris Messina, Ella Jay Basco, Ali Wong, and Ewan McGregor. Running time: 109 minutes Certificate: 15
1A-MSTM Rating 7.5/10
A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood
We begin. It’s 1998 in New York City. A nine-year-old girl and her four-year-old brother are tucked into opposite sides of their worn, denim sofa. A boxy Zenith TV flickers to life and with it they fill their tiny lungs with air and belt out: “It’s a beautiful day in the neighbourhood!” This scene is both specific and ubiquitous, taking place in living rooms across North America for over 30 years. The sofas may have changed but Mr Rogers always wore that red cardigan. This enthusiasm is brought to more-than life in Marielle Heller’s not-a-biopic-biopic about Mr Rogers: A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood. Perhaps you feel misled. A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood doesn’t actually begin in a living room with a denim sofa – that was your writer’s personal experience. But it does begin in 1998 in New York City, and it begins with a man named Lloyd Vogel (played by Matthew Rhys). We are dropped into Lloyd’s point of view and the movie rarely shifts from it. We experience Mr Rogers – by the time they meet, he’s already a children’s TV legend – as Lloyd experiences him: unflappably calm, curious and wise. But things are not calm for Lloyd. Lloyd is tackling his fears of failing as a father, his anger, his lack of trust, his cynicism and his grief. And we become Lloyd, seeing the world through his eyes and feeling our fears, our own anger and grief. Anyone who has loved and lost will find it impossible not to be moved by the view through this intimate lens. Framing Mr Rogers through the eyes of someone else, someone broken and angry and yearning for someone to teach him how to manage those feelings (even if he doesn’t know it), gives the audience a more intimate connection than if we were some invisible observer. Instead, we are there with Lloyd as Mr Rogers’ gaze penetrates the walls we’ve built around our feelings. The movie takes its title from the theme song to Mr Rogers’ show, but the foundation of its story is based on the profile of Mr Rogers done by Esquire journalist Tom Junod in 1998. The movie is not so concerned with concrete details, though. Some moments and dialogue are pulled directly from Junod’s profile but the film’s medium isn’t just narrative, it’s also emotive. Which makes sense for a movie about a man who dedicated his life to helping children deal with their feelings. Joining Hanks and Rhys are Susan Kelechi Watson as Andrea Vogel (based on Junod’s wife) and Chris Cooper as Jerry Vogel (based on Junod’s father) both of whom are well rounded, complicated, whole human beings with their own fears, angers, desires and grief. As for Tom, there is no one better suited to play Mr Fred Rogers than Mr Tom Hanks, who shines in the role. Hanks never disappears into his characters as, say, Charlize Theron might, but in this instance, that very trait works in the movie’s favour. Each character is a note, their feelings a chord, and together the movie plays the scales of emotion from the sorrowful, lowest notes to the most joyful highs with ease. We are with Andrea as she contends with being a new mother and putting her career on hold. We are with Jerry as he confronts his demons and takes responsibility for his actions. And we are with Lloyd as he opens himself up to Mr Rogers’ impossibly deep well of empathy. Even for those who didn’t grow up curled into the corner of their sofa watching the TV flicker to life and belting out its theme song, A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood will make you feel. Just that. Feel.
Director: Marielle Heller; Starring: Tom Hanks, Matthew Rhys, Susan Kelechi Watson, and Chris Cooper; Running time: 109 minutes; Certificate: PG
1A-MSTM Rating 9/10
True Romance (1993)
The movie follows an ex-hooker and her lover (later husband) after they unintentionally steal drugs from her pimp during a botched meeting with him. It builds up like a snowball right from the start, first it’s the pimp then the mafia leading to a crazy drug deal finale. Along the way you’re treated to some of the best scenes in modern movie history in my opinion such as the “The Sicilian scene” featuring Dennis Hopper & Christopher Walken, The dialogue is superb and delivery even better by the legends of the silver screen. As for Gary Oldman’s character “Drexl” he’s only in the movie for around 7 minutes but my god what a 7 minutes !!! This could be one of if not the best performances of Oldman’s career. The movie features an ensemble cast featuring Christian Slater, Patricia Arquette, James Gandolfini, Dennis Hopper, Val Kilmer, Gary Oldman, Brad Pitt, and Christopher Walken to name a few. Sadly the movie was a box office flop taking less than the $12.5m budget however the movie has developed a cult following since it’s home media release and in my opinion could be one of the best Tarantino stories. Just for fun for those that haven’t seen the movie please give it a go and try to work out where Val Kilmer is in the movie, It took a second viewing for me to suss out where he was.
Director: Tony Scott Written by: Quentin Tarantino
Stars: Christian Slater, Patricia Arquette, Dennis Hopper, James Gandolfini, Val Kilmer, Gary Oldman, Brad Pitt, and Christopher Walken
Reviewed by DC
1A-MSTM Rating 10/10