Doctor Sleep


Viewed – 06 November 2019

I consider The Shining one of the best movies ever made, so this follow-up, based on Stephen King’s own best seller was something I never knew I wanted. King famously hated director Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 adaptation and so this movie interestingly brings King’s sequel to life as well as heavily referencing Kubrick’s movie.

Ewan McGregor plays Dan Torrance, the grown up version of that kid in the original, who has battled his ‘shining’ affliction to see the dead, with alcohol. However when a young girl named Abra begins communicating with him through her own psychic gift, Dan is drawn into a battle against a mysterious group of travellers (lead by Rebecca Ferguson) who pray on those that shine.

The way characters, separated for miles connect and come together during the story was what drew me into this. The movie uses imaginative ways of making the various locations and characters feel connected and only builds and gets more creative the closer they get to one another. The story also fleshes our the ‘shining’ ability as well as further exploring characters and moments from the first movie with spot-on re-creations and occasionally uncanny look-a-likes. Rebecca Ferguson is dangerously sexy as Rose The Hat and McGregor is also very good, even if he’s often outshined by Kyliegh Curran as Abra.

Although I’d have liked the movie to be less the supernatural drama it is and more a full-on horror, the story was (mostly) involving enough to make up for a lack of genuine frights. Director Mike Flanagan (Gerald’s Game) uses many creative visual flourishes to make what on paper could get a bit silly – highly entertaining and I found myself invested in Dan and Abra’s plight. This is how you do a sequel to such a legendary movie … build on a great concept yet take nothing away from the original.

Verdict: 4 /5

T2: Trainspotting


Viewed – 28 January 2017  Cinema

A sequel I was both looking forward to and slightly dreading.  The set-twenty-years-later follow up to one of the defining, cult British movies of the nineties that seemed to not really require a sequel, but here we are presented with one anyway.  I’ll admit to being intrigued by where the characters might be now, what their lives have involved over the years etc. and where things might go next for them, especially considering how the last movie ended – with Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor), having been involved in a drug deal, making off with £16,000 cash from under the nose of his so-called friends.

Trainspotting 2

It’s this betrayal that the movie for the most part hangs onto, and well, Renton’s homecoming to Edinburg is not exactly met with open arms.  Sick Boy (Johnny Lee Miller) & Spud (Ewan Bremner) find themselves not really having amounted to much, and blame much of that on Renton, be it his fault or not.  Also there’s the matter of the homicidal madman Francis Begbie (Robert Carlisle) to contend with, who quickly escapes from Prison and doesn’t take long to learn of Renton’s return.  Let it be said, this is a very different beast to the 1996 original.  That hedonistic and sleazy portrait of drug culture was filled with clever surrealism, bags of energy and iconic music in a way that made it the cool movie of the time.  This isn’t really attempting any of that despite a strong reliance on nostalgia for much of it’s flavour.  This is as much a snapshot of modern-day society as it is a celebration of another time.  Every character seems to be stuck in a rut, hopelessly looking back and reminiscing and er…holding grudges.  Carlisle steals the show for the most part, revelling in the Begbie persona that stood out so much in the first movie but hasn’t changed or developed one iota.  Sad he even get’s a chance to be more than a one note psycho towards the end, but the movie chooses not to go there.  With nobody having really changed, from Sick Boy’s blackmailing schemes and Spud (surprisingly the only character who goes on a ‘journey’) still being on drugs … I gradually began to wonder what the point of it all was.

There’s several exciting and funny moments with plenty of personality, a new, culturally relevant ‘choose life’ speech, and memorable music cues from The Prodigy, Wolf Alice and more … but with an overwhelming theme of middle aged men hating their lives and being trapped in the past, this ended up rather depressing.  Fans of the original should definitely check this out, and it was still fun to spend time with such colourful characters again.  Danny Boyle’s direction was also consistently eye-catching (if a tad trying too hard) … but despite such efforts, ultimately this fails to justify it’s existence.

Verdict:  3 /5

Scenes that make the movie


I’ve been thinking about this idea for a post.  Ten memorable scenes from some of my favourite movies of all time, or simply great moments that make a particular movie going experience stick in my head.  This may become a continuing series as I recall other great moments…but for now, here are ten stand out moments from great movies:  Minor spoilers.

Akira

Teddy bears & hallucinations.

Akira Gif

As a telepathic Kaneda post-brush with an infected child of the Akira experiment, recovers in hospital, he begins to experience terrifying hallucinations where teddy bears and toys comes to life as his powers start to manifest in horrifying ways.  One of the defining moments of this complex and ground-breaking Anime.

An America Werewolf In London

Stick to the road

AAWIL Moores

Two back packers after stumbling into local watering hole The Slaughtered Lamb are ushered back out into the night, with simply the warning of ‘stay on the road, keep clear of the moores’ – which they subsequently ignore and are soon stalked by a blood thirsty werewolf in John Landis’ still superb 1984 horror classic.

Blue Velvet

In Dreams

Blue Dean

Amateur detective Kyle MacLachlan gets a little too close to nut-job mobster Dennis Hopper who takes him for a visit to his cross-dressing neighbourhood friend Dean Stockwell, who lip-syncs to Roy Orbinson’s timeless classic in possibly one of David Lynch’s most freaky and brilliant scenes.

Boogie Nights

Disco montage

Boogie Nights

As former nobody Dirk Diggler (Mark Wahlberg) rises to infamy in the seventies porn movie industry, we are treated to this fabulous disco montage, cut seamlessly with various shots of Dirk ‘in action’ or receiving awards and culminating in a wonderfully choreographed dance number with fellow stars Reed Rothchild (John C Reilly) and Roller-girl (Heather Graham).

Eyes Wide Shut

The secret sex party

eyes wide shut

Only in a Stanley Kubrick movie can a high society sex orgy come across as creepy and surreal.  The master film maker in probably his most misunderstood work, presents the viewer with a secret society that Tom Cruise manages to sneak inside of and witness the debauchery of most-likely high profile dignitaries with various high class call girls.  All to a haunting, incredibly eerie score.

Goodfellas

Paranoia, drugs and guns

goodfellas paranoid

In the final act of the movie an increasingly paranoid Ray Liotta, struggles to juggle family responsibilities with fencing guns for Robert DeNiro and avoiding what he thinks is an FBI helicopter during the day from hell.  Expertly edited for maximum tension and intensity by the grand master Martin Scorsese.

Monsters Inc.

A chase through the doors

monsters-inc

After discovering the main villain’s evil scheme, Billy Crystal’s motor-mouthed Mike and John Goodman’s lovable Sully are chased by Steve Buscemi’s dastardly Randall into the inner workings of the Monsters Inc. facility and through a plethora of doors into the human world.  Exciting, inventive and visually stunning.

Pulp Fiction

Jack Rabbit Slims

pulp gif

In a mob movie with pop-culture quoting wise guys and a soundtrack to die for, who’d have thought one of the best scenes would be a night out between John Travolta’s mob hitman and gangsters-mol Uma Thurman?  Culminating in the world famous Twist Contest.  Sharp dialogue, a highly memorable setting, and an after-math that segway’s into probably the other best scene in this movie.

Saving Private Ryan

Omaha Beach Landing

After visiting the final resting place of hundreds of soldiers, an elderly veteran recalls his experience with tears in his eyes – switch to the shocking beach onslaught in Omaha in 1944 as thousands of troops fight against impossible odds.  A stunning opening to one of the greatest WWII movies ever made, with star (Tom Hanks) and director (Steven Spielberg) on blistering form.

Trainspotting

Clubbing to Blondie.

transpotting

Taking a break from ripping people off and doing drugs, Ewan McGregor’s Renton finds himself on a night out with friends, hitting the clubs and listening to Heaven 17 and Blondie (or Sleeper doing a marvellous version of Atomic), where he meets Diane (Kelly MacDonald) and leads to a montage of sex, alcohol and pulse-pounding music in Danny Boyle’s break-out gem.

Do you agree with my list?  Have favourite scenes of your own?  Leave your comments below or link to your own lists…

The Impossible


Viewed – 12 May 2013  Pay-per-view

On hearing of the Tsunami disaster  boxing day 2010 in Thailand, I think I was not alone for feeling great sorrow for all those that had suffered and died.  It shook the world and put usual yuletide spirits on a major downer.  So with the disaster still clear in my head, I sat down to watch this dramatization, based on the true story of one family, with much anticipation.

the_impossible

This stars Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor as a couple, who along with their three boys journey to an island resort in Thailand.  However their enjoyment of the holiday is cut short when an unexpected tidle wave hits the beach, and destroys everything in its path.  Watts becomes separated from her husband, and we watch with anticipation as the family struggle to find each other again.  This is a very powerful and emotionally draining experience.  Shot with incredible detail and raw believability by Juan Antonio Bayona (The Orphanage)  and with several excellent performances, not just from Watts (who was Oscar nominated) and McGregor but also the child actors playing the couples kids … this is a movie about survival and about a family.   I found myself really caught up in their plight and even had a tear (or two) in my eye at times.

I really can’t praise this enough.  It doesn’t gloss over the true horror of what happened and shows us every detail to harrowing effect.  Naomi Watts really should have got the Oscar for her very human and  traumatic turn, but I’d also give the nod to director Bayona, who considering this is his English language debut, has done astonishing work here … clearly a name to look out for.  How some of the reenactment of the Tsunami was done, I still can’t get my head around.

Essential.

Verdict:  5 /5

Haywire


Viewed – 15 February 2013 DVD

Has to be said, director Steven Soderbergh has been one of the more prolific film makers of recent years, sometimes churning out several movies a year.  He is also one of the most versatile, now dipping his toe in the espionage thriller sub-genre with this latest offering.

haywire_14

Newcomer and former MMA (mixed martial arts) champion Gina Carano stars as a highly skilled Government agent who during a mission in Barcelona is set up by her own people, and is soon out seeking revenge.  Nothing all that original but for a cool-as-ice performance from the very sexy Carano, showcasing some impressive skills in several gritty and realistically-shot fights.  Realism is the key word here and Soderbergh delivers a very well made movie that shoots the action like a documentary film maker but sprinkles events in an assured, stylish sheen.  It’s a unique approach but helps this movie gain its own identity.

Support from the likes of Ewan McGregor, Michael Douglas and Antonio Banderas are good but nothing all that special.  Clearly this is a showcase for Carano who proves herself not only a believable action star but also a likable screen presence, and I for one will be keeping my eye on her.  Fast, slick and very enjoyable.

Verdict:  3.5 /5