Sunday, September 3, 2017

American Made

Director: Doug Liman

Starring: Tom Cruise, Sarah Wright, Domhnall Gleeson, Alejandro Edda, Caleb Landry Jones.

Based loosely on a true story of Barry Seal (Tom Cruise), an adventurer come drug smuggler caught up in the Iran-Contra Scheme of the 70s-80s. The pilot is unwittingly recruited by US dirty trick brigade to ferry ‘cargos’ between the US and the Medellin drug cartel. At a time in history when the lines of good and bad, right and wrong become blurred Seal helps the US Authorities whilst prospering as a smuggler transporting weapons to the guerrillas and in turn bringing back narcotics to the US. Inevitably things fall apart but not before Seal, the family man, tries to deal with the changing events much of which are out of his control. A good performance by Cruise makes this black comedy enjoyable as he portrays a man trying desperately to deal with the absurdity of the situation.

Monday, August 21, 2017


Director: Joel Hopkins
Starring: Diane Keaton, Brendan Gleeson,James Norton, James Smythe

This is a gentle feel good love story based on a true story of Harry Hallowes and set in modern London. Emily Walters (Diane Keaton), is a widow struggling with debt after the demise of her philandering husband. Concerned friends and son (James Norton) try to help her but only after she meets Donald (Brendan Gleeson), a bad-tempered hermit living in a handmade shack on wooded Hampstead Heath, does her life change for the good. The mismatched pair bond as they work to protect Donald’s living quarters from being repossessed. Despite the on-screen chemistry between the two leading actors a weak script prevents this film from becoming a classic English comedy. At 103 minutes the movie is overlong, but a good support cast, particularly from James Smythe, as a creepy Lothario, makes it all worth watching.

Monday, August 7, 2017

The Trip to Spain

Director: Michael Winterbottom

Starring: Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon

Neither Steve Coogan nor Rob Bryson are my most favourite actors although I accept they are very good, but just not my cup of tea. I did enjoy ‘Philomena’, otherwise not been overly impressed with their body of work. Now, it is me and both these guys are undoubtedly talented and on their third ‘trip’ movie. Coogan, now a film star based in New York, teams up with the London based Bryson on a commissioned tour through rural Spain savouring the culinary delights of selective restaurants for their respective newspapers. Not much different from their previous adventures but their ability to continue a barrage of humorous self-deprecation within the simple plots which marry both truth and fiction brilliantly is truly engaging. Sometimes you imagine a punch up almost imminent, but the likeable companions keep it light, breezy and very amusing throughout. I defy you to tell when the two are acting or improvising. The travelogue is complemented by strikingly beautiful scenery and, of course, food to make your mouth water. I did enjoy this movie.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Zookeeper's Wife

Director: Niki Caro
Starring: Jessica Chastain, Johan Heldenbergh, Daniel Bruhl

A brave couple use their Warsaw Zoo to harbour escaped Jews from the Getto. Inspired by real-life couple Antonina and Jan Zabinski (Jessica Chastain and Johan Heldenbergh), who were members of Polish high society that clandestinely, outwitted Hitler’s zoologist, Lutz Heck (Daniel Brühl), when their zoo is depleted of animals and occupied by a garrison of troops. This is an atmospheric movie with excellent cinematography, especially of the animals distressed by the initial invasion. The film has its moments however, the narrative is somewhat disjointed in places and the real human drama not always to the forefront. Sweet and sour, this is not Schindler’s List, although the gravitas of the story makes is worthy of comparison. Worth watching and could be up for some awards.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Going in style

Director: Zach Braff

Starring: Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Alan Arkin, Ann-Margaret, Christopher Lloyd , Matt Dillon

Grumpy Old men meets the Italian Job in Zach Braff’s remake of Going in Style (1979) which originally starred George Burns. The story follows, three New York septuagenarians (messers Caine, Freeman and Arking) desperate to make sense of their new circumstance as retired working men completely fleeced by the Corporate and Banking world. They decide to get their own back with a bank heist. A larger than life plot follows dotted with light humour and some pathos. Overall this is a feel-good farce with a lot of on screen laughs (more than in the trailer) thanks to screenwriter Theodore Melfi. Good on screen performances from Caine, Freeman and Arking with Ann-Margaret, Christopher Lloyd, Matt Dillon in support, keep the plot going.