Happy Independence Day!

How do you celebrate being American on the most American day of the year? Plenty of you will be out and about, enjoying your day off, having a barbecue, going for a few drinks or nursing a hangover. I’m from London, I live in London, I work in London. I do not have the privilege of having this day off, today I’ve been working “hard”. I’m sure if I was off I would select a few movies to watch whilst sitting at home, eating a massive burger and waving my red, white and blue flag.

Perhaps ones with the words America or American in it, this would certainly solidify your love for such a great nation. Right? Well, that’s how this non-American will be celebrating, here are a few selections from my very own DVD collection which I’ll be watching this week.

Coming to America

Two immigrants, one of which is royalty in their home nation, come to America in search of a bride. This goes to show that Eddie Murphy was once funny. It’s such a superb film from the 80s, a time defined by movies such as this. I highly recommend it if you’ve not seen it. If you have, watch it again, you know how good it is. Lucky for them, I don’t think their country is banned from coming to America, yet.

American Sniper

Considered to be over the top when it came to its patriotism, American Sniper was a great film and a rare great dramatic performance from Bradley Cooper. This true story also stars the unrecognisable Sienna Miller and received extremely unfair criticism from some for being for too flag-waiving but there’s nothing wrong with that, the story was well told and interesting to watch. However some have recentmy said this story isn’t as incredible as it’s told. Oh well.

Team America: World Police

A slightly different war film, from the creators of South Park, celebrate being American by saying fuck yeah! Here our “heroes” are trying to stop all sort of terrorist attacks…by blowing things up, killing hundreds. The extremely tongue in cheek way this movie goes about telling you that America are in fact number 1 (queue eye roll) is brilliantly funny, self deprecating and smarter than you’d expect puppets to be.

American Beauty

Showing that the American dream is anything but that, this 1999 film proves that you can’t believe what you see. Made in an era when the property market was booming and people used handheld videos cameras, Sam Mendes creates a seemingly perfect family but who have several troubles within including the fact that both the daughter (Thora Birch) and mother (Annette Benning) hate the father (Kevin Spacey). Unlucky. It’s got superb performances all round, several twists, sharp dialogue and beautiful set pieces.

Captain America (Trilogy)

Considering the fact that this man was people’s least favourite superhero, he’s come leaps and bounds from his first outing in 2011. Celebrate being American with the most American hero there is. Someone who,these days, goes against what others want him to do, confronts with the government and fights with his friends. USA! USA! USA! Anyway, which ever one is your favourite (unless it’s The First Avenger), this is a wonderful way to enjoy your independence.

American Pie

Comparing sex to apple pie? Yeah, it’s pretty much the same thing; putting something warm and tasty in your mouth, chew and swallow… Maybe not. Either way, with so many Americanisms (a couple of jocks, a few nerds, cheerleaders, high school, high school parties, pressuring others into sex. JOKE.) this is an ideal film to watch today. The first and second films are fantastically funny, after that it just gets rotten!

American History X

Excuse the image but you know what it is if you’ve seen this movie already. Considering the current state of the Administration currently in office, this couldn’t be more suited to today. A movie about a bunch of people pushing their own right wing agenda whilst not giving a shit about who gets hurt along the way to create your ideal country. That’s basically what’s happening right now. Wake the fuck up!

American Psycho

Pretty much what it says on the tin. Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) is the perfect American psycho, someone who loses it over a business card, abuses prostitutes to the point that they are left bloody and bruised and killing his co-workers. HAPPY 4TH OF JULY!

Keep. It. Reel.

Advertisements

Baby Driver, review

Ansel Elgort stars as the title character, he’s been the getaway driver for criminal kingpin Doc (Kevin Spacey) for several years, paying off a debt job by job. After a heist with three bank robbers, he meets Debora (Lily James) at a diner who makes him see there’s more to life.

Edgar Wright’s signature style of using music in an enjoyable fashion within his films is not an easy feat to achieve. Coming up with the right song for the perfect moment can be tricky, but he’s hit the mark time and time again. With Shaun of the Dead during the zombie beating scene using Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now, countless times in cult TV show Spaced, as well as his adaptation of Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World. Baby Driver takes it up a notch by collating a soundtrack of 30 songs which the main character listens to throughout, whilst sliding his car through impossible turns and corners, consistently moving to the beat of the music. It’s a technique that not only works well by driving (pun intended) the narrative forward but also without telling you how to feel. You’re already there within every single heart-racing moment.

Baby is a genius behind the wheel which attributed to listening to music in order to drown out his tinnitus. He drives to the beat of his tracks, which creates an almost musical vibe as his car darts, weaves and almost dances through traffic. It begins with The Bellbottom’s pulse thumping tune during the opening sequence which shows that the film is about putting music and narrative together. He drives a different crew each time so Doc thinks of him as his lucky charm, so when he tries to leave, he’s met with extreme pressure and not only from Spacey’s character.

The criminals he drives include a range of outlaw bandits such as married couple Buddy (a rather disheveled and messy looking Jon Hamm) and the confidently cocky Darling (Eiza Gonzalez). There’s also Griff (Jon Bernthal) and Bats (Jamie Foxx), both of whom are clearly enjoying their bad guy roles by pulling out haughty takes on their characters, creating a hostile environment for the resident driver. The extensive grief Baby gets from their truculent attitudes is at times hard to watch, with Griff asking if he’s retarded. Doc replies, “Retarded means slow, is he slow?”. Obviously not. The relationship between Baby and Doc is one built partly on trust and partly paying off a debt job by job. He’s almost a father figure, certainly a unconventional one at least.

Away from his life of crime things changes drastically for Baby, when he meets Debora, a woman who reminds him of his mother. She catches him using his tape recorder as she walks by singing a tune and approaches him as they wax lyrical about music they each have a fondness for. The pair are quick to bond, with the immediate attraction sparking with their witty back and fourths. He’s also taking care of his deaf foster father “Pops” whilst indulging in his hobby of mixing recordings he’s secretly taken of his criminal partners.

Baby drives like no other, a fact we see a few times; he knows how to take a corner when going full throttle, he knows how to tackle oncoming traffic whilst driving in the opposite direction, he’s able to anticipate the direction the police are going. It’s entirely intuitive and an utter joy to see him practically dancing his way around town. He’s slick even when he’s not driving, a scene shows him moving and almost shaking on the streets of Atlanta to the sound of Harlem Shuffle. Then during a gun battle each shot, reload and painful yell is choreographed to Button Down Brass’s Tequila which is beautifully enjoyable.

Whilst this starts off as an all out action car chase, it settles into more if a character development, looking into Baby’s past and what lead him to his life of crime. It’s a stellar performance from Ansel who digs deep to create a likable, emotionally vulnerable character who clearly doesn’t belong in the world of ruthless thugs and heists. This is more than just a film set to a blistering soundtrack, it’s shown how to develop a story on top of the songs.

In anyone else’s hands, this could have been made into a parody of itself, poking fun at the heist and musical genres, however with Edgar Wright at the helm of his first solo writer/director feature, it’s in the safest and sharpest possible hands. His visionary style is just what this film needed to drive it forward full throttle.

4 out of 5.

Keep. It. Reel.

BFI London Film Festival 2017 Announces Opening Film

The 61st BFI London Film Festival has announced that it will open with the directorial debut by Andy Serkis called Breathe. The film, which will have it’s European premiere on October 4th, tells the true story of Robin (Andrew Garfield) and Diana (Claire Foy) whose lives are changed once he’s paralysed after being diagnosed with Polio. 

Andy Serkis says, “On behalf of the cast and crew of Breathe we are absolutely thrilled and deeply honoured to be the Opening Gala performance in this year’s incredibly richly diverse and world-class BFI London Film Festival. Breathe is a deeply personal story to all of us at The Imaginarium and to have the European premiere of my directorial debut in London, my hometown, is beyond my wildest dreams.” 

The BFI London Film Festival takes place from October 4th to 15th and will showcase several films, ranging from a wide variety of filmmakers from diverse backgrounds. 

​​

Keep. It. Reel.

Ron Howard Confirmed As Director Of Han Solo Project 

After the recent shock departure of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller from the Star Wars spin off Han Solo project, there were rumours which quickly sprouted of Ron Howard taking over. Well, it seems in a rare twist a rumour turned out to be true! The director of Rush and Apollo 13 has been announced as the replacement director, taking over for the next few weeks of shooting as well as the films planned reshoots, scheduled for later this year.

Ron, who has been previously rumoured for Phantom Menace, will be working for the next 3 weeks, ensuring it’s steered in the right direction. It’s unclear what credit Lord and Miller will receive if any who allegedly had several disagreements with producer Kathleen Kennedy.

Lucasfilm moved quickly to find a replacement due to the fact that they are not changing the scheduled release date. Shooting is due to resume on July 10th, giving the crew time to take stock of the situation. Kennedy said, “At Lucasfilm we believe the highest goal of each film is to delight, carrying forward the spirit of the saga that George Lucas began 40 years ago. With that in mind we’re thrilled to announce that Ron Howard will step in to direct the untitled Han Solo film. We have a wonderful script, an incredible cast and crew and the absolute commitment to make a great movie.”

It was announced that Lord and Miller left the project due to creative differences. Hearsay from the set says that the directing duo were not happy with the control Kennedy had over the creativity of the project. It’s been rumoured that they didn’t have as much control as they would have liked and also butted heads with writer and Star Wars veteran Jon Kasdan.

With the movie taking a break until next month, they’ll have to work fast to have it finished on time. Let’s hope this doesn’t have an affect on production.

Starring Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo, the movie is to be set around the early days of the Millennium Falcon pilot as a smuggler. It also stars Donald Glover, Thandie Newton, Woody Harrelson, Michael K. Williams and Emilia Clarke. The project is still slated for release on May 25th, 2018.

Keep. It. Reel.

Feasting From Films. Chef: Garlic Pasta

Recently my lady friend (hello Lizzie) had the idea of combining my love of food and film into regular blog posts. Essentially the concept is to cook/bake dishes seen in movies, see how easy they are to make and how they taste. Lucky for me, I enjoy cooking however Lizzie is much better at it than I am so she took the reins on what is hopefully the first of many food related film blog posts.

The idea sprung to Lizzie’s mind after were watched the Jon Favreau flick, Chef who stars and directs this food lovers movie. (If you’ve not seen it, I suggest that before viewing it that you eat something extra tasty. Food envy is the worst.) Favreau stars as Carl Casper, a frustrated chef, caged by the menu he has to serve night after night as well as his unrelenting boss, Dustin Hoffman.

Once upon a time he was being hailed as one of the most exciting things in the restaurant business but is now reduced to a bog standard cook. This leads to a pretty bad review from a well-known food critic and the meltdown to end all meltdowns. Unfortunately for Casper, this is the digital age where everyday people can photograph and film at the push of a button which leads to him becoming a viral star. He quits and soon after he’s convinced to start a food truck which quickly gains popularity.

Before all of this, the pre-meltdown portion of the film if you will, he cooks garlic pasta (full name is Pasta Aglio e Olio) for Scarlett Johansson who loves it! Who wouldn’t? It looks so good that I’m pretty sure I could smell it. Maybe it was the garlic bread I was eating at the time but I doubt that. Anyway, here’s the ingredients and method for the garlic pasta.

For the original recipe, take a look here.

Ingredients (Serves 2 people)

  • Large handful of spaghetti
  • 8 cloves of garlic, sliced thinly
  • 150 ml extra virgin oil
  • 1 tablespoon of chili flakes
  • 60g Parmesan, grated
  • Handful of diced parsley
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper to season

Method

  1. Find the Chef soundtrack and press play
  2. Boil some water in a saucepan, add salt and then place the spaghetti in until cooked, usually around 10 minutes or so
  3. Whilst this is cooking, heat up the oil in a separate frying pan on a gentle heat and then add in the garlic, ensuring that you stir it every minute so that it doesn’t burn
  4. Once the garlic is golden brown, remove from the heat, drain the spaghetti and leave on the side until you’re ready to mix
  5. Add the chili flakes to the garlic and oil, then stir, making sure it is well mixed
  6. Turn the volume up for God’s sake! I can’t hear the sexy salsa sounds of Chef over all that frying and mixing!
  7. Add the spaghetti in and toss/stir until it is completely coated in garlic/chili oil (I’m drooling, I want it again!)
  8. Add in the parsley and parmesan and again stir well
  9. Squeeze in the lemon juice, ensuring it is drizzled all over the spaghetti
  10. Season with salt and pepper to your own taste
  11. ENJOY!

It’s a surprisingly simple recipe which (minus chopping the garlic thinly) didn’t take that long. It’s perfect and filling by itself, however I’d recommend that you serve it with a salad if anything. I added in extra parmesan as I was eating, because of the heat and this also improved the taste overall.

We used more than a tablespoon of chili flakes and it was a bit too much, however you can probably take the heat better than me. Here are a few images during the cooking  process. Excuse the quality, my camera thinks it’s from the 90s.

Keep an eye out on my blog for monthly movie recipes from all sorts of films and if you have any ideas you’d like me to try out, let me know.

Keep. It. Reel.

Lord and Miller Fired From Han Solo Project 

It’s been announced that Phil Lord and Chris Miller have left the Han Solo project after clashing several times with producer Kathleen Kennedy. The pair left on Tuesday after they were not being given the freedom to run their own production of the Star Wars spin off movie.

In a released statement, Lord and Miller have said, “Unfortunatemy, our vision and process weren’t aligned with our partners on this project. We normally aren’t fans of the phrase ‘creative differences’ but for once this clichè is true. We are really proud of the amazing and world-class work of our cast and crew.”

Lord and Miller also butted heads with writer and producer Larry Kasdan, who has been part of Star Wars ever since Empire Strikes Back. It’s claimed that he was never a fan of the pair’s directing style.

Kennedy said, “Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are talented filmmakers who assembled an incredible cast and crew but it’s become clear that we had different creative visions on this film and we’ve decided to part ways.”

With a few weeks still left to shoot, plus reshoots planned for later on, the Han Solo movie needs a new director. Ron Howard has been rumoured but nothing is being confirmed as of yet.

Starring Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo, the movie is to be set around the early days of the Millennium Falcon pilot as a smuggler. It also stars Donald Glover, Thandie Newton, Woody Harrelson, Michael K. Williams and Emilia Clarke. The project is still slated for release on May 25th, 2018.

Keep. It. Reel.

A Ghost Story, review

Having a mainstream actor on screen whose face you only see for around 20 minutes during a 90 minute film sounds pretty jarring. Then when you mix that with the fact that his face is obscured by a white sheet as he plays a ghost of his former self, it’s borderline ludicrous. It’s a film that shouldn’t work, that shouldn’t make you feel, that you should be laughing at. However, thanks to the embracing performances, lingering camera shots and sparing use of dialogue, this is a film that makes you think about love, loss, acceptance and grief in a profoundly deep and moving way.

It’s no spoiler to say that around 10 minutes into the film, Casey Affleck’s character dies, leaving Rooney Mara to grieve. It cuts to Mara looking at Affleck’s body covered in a white sheet in a hospital. A long and looming shot of the room after Mara leaves shows Affleck’s ghost get up and walk around, eye holes have already been provided. From here he walks around the hospital and eventually makes his way back to their home where he is unable to leave. His interactions are only with that of another entity next door. The way the camera looks at a room, or a person, it’s examining all after affects of death and how it much it hits you.

He looks over the bereft Mara as she slowly begins to move on and live her life, up until the moment she leaves. It’s soon after we realise that he’s stuck in this house for some reason. The film only briefly slips into poltergeist territory when a Mexican family moves into the house and he disrupts their home. During a significant course of time, different people are shown to be living here, inhabiting what Affleck clearly still feels is his space.

There are consistent leering shots, all of which appear to be looking to a person in greater detail than we see. One in particular sticks with you in which Rooney Mara sits Whilst at the same time asking yourself, what kind of pie is that? Is it chocolate? Is it pumpkin? Maybe it’s savoury? How many takes did Rooney have to do? How many pie did she eat? WHAT FLAVOUR IS THE PIE?

The pair are never named in the film, they are never given a chance to address each other in such a way but their relationship transcends words and becomes more complex through gestures, looks and movements. It becomes a comment on how love and loss can both be expressed in similar ways; with looks and not words, with gestures, with unshared thoughts.

With it’s subtle and haunting score, nuanced performances and steering mostly clear of the paranormal route, this is a haunting experience that will stay with you for a long time.

4 out of 5.

Keep. It. Reel.

 

Black Panther trailer: Best Bits

Ordinarily there would be a warning of a trailer, a teaser for a teaser if you will. However lately Marvel have been subverting this stupidity, first with Thor: Ragnarok where the first look dropped without any prior knowledge and now, just this weekend, we got to see a glimpse of what Black Panther will look like. My god! What a trailer! It’s a very un-Marvel looking trailer with Ryan Coogler taking the directors seat.

We are taken on quite a journey, essentially on a tour of Wakanda. We had a very brief glimpse of it in Civl War where Bucky went back on ice and the Black Panther statue was revealed. The trailer has confirmed that this is a nation with vast wealth after seeing the city landscapes, it’s weapons and technology.

In the trailer we see a huge range of the cast which starts with Andy Serkis talking to Martin Freeman in an unknown location about the African nation. Then we see Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) in a gun battle, showing his superb agility. These fight scenes are going to be something very different.

We then delve deep into Wakanda and see Michael B. Jordan training and battling against a tribe, with him is Daniel Kaluuya. It looks as of Jordan has been taken prisoner and Kaluuya is a guard however I’m just guessing!

The trailer shows what appears to be an internal uprising as well as forces coming into Wakanda to take over from T’Challa who has become King after his father’s death. Lupita Nyong’o, Forest Whitaker and Danai Gurira all make fleeting appearances however they will have much bigger roles than the trailer suggests.

Out in February 2018, Black Panther is the 18th MCU movie and it’s directed by Ryan Coogler.

Step into the spotlight.


Keep. It. Reel.

Bushwick, review

Dave Bautista gives a brutal and emotional performance, packing several punches throughout this sub-par thought provoking film about a modern day civil war taking place in the New York suburb of Bushwick.

We are introduced to the town via an overhead shot through helicopters patrolling the air above, it’s an almost calming influence before being thrown head first into the chaos below. Lucy (Brittany Snow) arrives at the ordinarily quiet town and becomes caught up in the gunfire, explosions and fires. Running away from the violence, still confused she encounters two men who briefly trap her before Stoop (Bautista) rescues her with a brutal attack. Still in shock, Lucy is full of questions, however neither knows what is really going on.

The pair team up, desperately trying to get somewhere safe, encountering people in similar situations as well as having to fight against the militia several times over. During these scenes, the camera rarely stops moving, whether it’s following characters up some stairs, through a doorway, on a bike. It’s an almost seemingly continuous shot, with two cuts, separating the film into a three act structure. It’s a technique which works out well as it is consistently introducing new characters and problems to solve.

There are continuity errors, as well as low levels of attention to detail and it’s lack of knowing where it wants to go at times. This can be said of the characters too who, at one point, make their way up to the roof of a school just to head back down almost immediately. A couple of times, when a character is supposed to have died, you could very clearly see them breathing and, at one point, blink. It’s errors like these, as well a miscast Angelic Zambrana as Lucy’s sister, which is where the film doesn’t quite live up to its brilliant start.

The film certainly knows what it is, a messy no holds barred brutal action film, with its heart firmly at the centre. It’s superb central performances, incredible camera work and the use of sound (gunfights and explosions often happen to the side but are equally violent as those you see in front of you) can all be credited to the directors Cary Murnion and Jonathan Milott who have done an amazing job one the action with a small budget. However, whilst it’s certainly an enjoyable watch, it isn’t a memorable one.

3 out of 5.

Keep. It. Reel.

Jimmy Kimmel To Host The Oscars Again

He was a farely leftfield choice to begin with but once he got onto that stage he knocked the Oscars out of the park. After doing such an amazing job this year (minus that very odd tour bus prank), Jimmy Kimmel is set to host the biggest movie awards show once again in 2018. His return is one few saw coming but it seems most are happy with.

For the 90th Academy Awards, who knows what he’ll have in-store but with this year’s smart and sharp opening monologue, poking fun at Hollywood’s elite, as well as adding in his own brand of comedy with Mean Tweets and his consistent piss taking of Matt Damon off stage, it’s sure to be equally entertaining. 

Jimmy will be the 23rd presenter who has hosted the Oscars more than once, joining a list which includes Bob Hope, Ellen DeGeneres, Whoopi Goldberg, Frank Sinatra, Jon Stewart and many more.

The 90th Academy Awards takes place on Sunday 4th March and I will be live tweeting them as always. But maybe not live Instagramming…

Keep. It. Reel.