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Saving Private Ryan review war epic still hits with sledgehammer force

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The trauma of war is made viscerally clear in Steven Spielbergs dazzling fusion of audacity, action and poignant human drama

“A present participle in the title usually promises a film with light, ironical flavour: Driving Miss Daisy, Being John Malkovich, Breakin 2: Electric Boogaloo. Not here. Screenwriter Robert Rodat imagined this colossal second world war blockbuster with absolute seriousness, loosely inspired by the real-life case of Sgt Frederick Niland, recalled to the US from the Normandy campaign on emergency compassionate grounds because all his brothers were believed (wrongly, as it turned out) to have been killed in action.

With this movie, re-released 21 years on, Steven Spielberg created one of his greatest films, an old-fashioned war picture to rule them all gripping, utterly uncynical, with viscerally convincing and audacious battle sequences. It was a staggeringly effective action film with a potent orchestral score by John Williams, candidly inspired by Elgars Nimrod. And it was based on a redemptive, quietist premise: the point of the mission is not to engage the enemy but to rescue an American soldier and spirit him away out of danger. Yet when the time of great trial comes, of course, no one is ducking the fight……………………………………….”

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2019/jun/06/saving-private-ryan-review-spielberg

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What’s My Name: Muhammad Ali review – from prodigy to legend

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Part one of Antoine Fuqua’s film shows the transformation within a decade from 12-year-old boxing novice Cassius Clay into the heavyweight champion of the world

“I asked my mother when I went to church on Sunday: ‘Why is everything white? What happened to all the black angels?’”

So Muhammad Ali told an interviewer, before giving a knowing look and – boom! – the punchline. “Black angels are in the kitchen preparing milk and honey.”

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Brightburn review effectively nasty horror subverts Superman narrative

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A superheros origin tale gets a gory upgrade in this snappy, and mostly entertaining, antidote to superhero fatigue

Long before he became the alt-superhero auteur of choice, for both Marvel and DC, James Gunn was a proud peddler of niftily produced schlock. He started out at Troma writing their deranged midnight movie take on Shakespeares most tragic romance, before working with Zack Snyder on his ferociously satisfying remake of Dawn of the Dead. For his directorial debut, Slither, Gunn paid tribute to 50s B-movies with a gloopy small-town horror about evil alien worms and while he has risen the ranks since, smoothing out his edges to take charge of the Guardians of the Galaxy and Suicide Squad franchises, he remains an unabashed genre fan at heart. He recently wrote 2017s The Belko Experiment, a brutal workplace horror, and now he has produced Brightburn, an effectively nasty shocker that also acts as an antidote to the deluge of superhero films hes partly responsible for.

Written by his brother, Brian Gunn, and cousin Mark Gunn, the film flips the Superman narrative on its head, setting us up with an almost identical scenario before taking us in a far darker direction. In the small town of Brightburn, Tori (Elizabeth Banks) and Kyle (David Denman) are struggling to conceive, and after a meteor falls from the sky with a baby inside, they think their luck has changed. But as their adopted child Brandon (Jackson A Dunn) grows up, they realise that something is horribly wrong………………………………………….”

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2019/may/22/brightburn-review-james-gunn-superhero-origin-story

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Amazing Grace review – Soul-shaking gospel from Aretha Franklin

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A spellbinding performance by the singer is captured in Sydney Pollacks 1972 film

“The 1970s may have been the heyday of the rock concert film, but the genre was frequently marred by questionable performances and legal squabbles. Whether its Led Zeppelin going off the boil in the wrangle-ridden The Song Remains the Same or the Rolling Stones finding themselves stars of an unfolding horror movie in the Maysless Gimme Shelter, these movies are fraught with strife. Its significant that the most celebrated concert film of all, Martin Scorseses The Last Waltz, captured the Band as they were splitting up, cementing the genres long-standing funereal affiliations and serving as inspiration for Rob Reiners nail-in-the-coffin mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap.

The story of Amazing Grace, centring on Aretha Franklins two-night performance in 1972 which led to the biggest selling live gospel album of all time, is no less troubled. Apparently inspired by the financial success of Mike Wadleighs festival behemoth Woodstock, and with an eye on increasingly synergistic film/music/TV markets, Warners enlisted Oscar winner Sydney Pollack to direct multi-camera 16mm footage of the 29-year-old Franklin recording her next album at the New Temple Missionary Baptist church in Los Angeles.

Unfortunately, with his background in drama rather than music docs, Pollack failed to use clapperboards or markers, making it virtually impossible to synch the resulting picture with the recorded sound. Not even lip readers, who were reportedly enlisted to sift through hours of silent film, could solve the problem.

Instead, the footage languished in…………………………………………………………”

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2019/may/12/amazing-grace-film-review-aretha-franklin-sydney-pollack

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