Viewed – 18 April 2015  Netflix

Nicholas Cage has had a bit of a bad rap lately with his wealth of commercially and critically underwhelming roles in mostly forgettable movies.  This is one that seems to have garnered him better reviews however.


Cage plays Joe, a boss in a logging firm who employs a local teenage kid looking for work.  Overtime the two form a bond and soon Joe realises that the kid’s drunken father may be hitting him and the kid’s mother.  Yet Joe has enough problems of his own – should he get involved?

A thought-provoking story slightly let down by what appears to be first time actors in key parts.  Tye Sheridan who plays the kid is not bad and fairly convincing, but I wished the toothless, abusive father had been portrayed by someone with a bit more acting-chops, to add some depth to his character.  Speaking of depth we get to know next to nothing of Joe’s background other than a stint in prison – where does he come from?  Why doesn’t he appear to have any family or friends?  I’ll always like Cage however, and here he does a decent job with a fairly basic character.

I came away feeling this was a poor man’s Gran Torino, the seasoned veteran actor and amateurish co-stars bringing on a serious case of Déjà vu – but it has only a smidgen of the emotional impact of that Clint Eastwood classic.  For fans of Cage though, this was one of his better performances in recent memory.

Verdict:  3 /5

Ten of the best

Top Ten lists are sort of something I enjoy doing, especially at the end of each year.  But Top Ten Favourite Movies of all time?  Harder.  I used to have a list a while back of which some of the movies below used to appear on.  Yet I gave up putting them in a particular order as they are so different some of them, comparing is impossible.  So find below Ten movies I think have had the greatest effect on me, either growing up, inspiring me (writing, movie tastes) or just hitting me on an emotional level.


Fight Club

Made me a big fan of the movies of David Fincher and has arguably Edward Norton’s finest turn.  Style, effects work in a movie that didn’t need it, a great soundtrack, that twist and endlessly quotable.

Gran Torino

Emotional, heart-wrenching, funny, touching with one of Eastwood’s best performances.  The cast of newcomers surrounding him are also first-rate.

gran torino

21 Grams

Complex and twist-filled with three stunning performances (especially Naomi Watts) and a script that is quite literally genius.  Tough going but well worth the journey.


Pulp Fiction

Possibly still my all time favourite movie.  The dialogue is amazing, funny, very cool and  believable.  The sound track is stuff of legend and performances across the board are superb.



Natalie Portman’s debut.  Ice-cool, Gary Oldman’s looniest but greatest villain, Jean Reno as a lovable assassin and Luc Besson on stunning form.


Annie Hall

All of Woody Allen’s best ideas, cleverest dialogue and touching observations rolled into one perfect movie.  Diane Keaton is excellent and Allen has never been funnier.


Terminator 2: Judgement Day

James Cameron fully realising Terminator … stunning effects work, amazing action sequences, Arnie at his best, Linda Hamilton as the most bad-ass female role model since Ellen Ripley.  The ultimate sci-fi blockbuster.

terminator 2

Blue Velvet

Weird but one of David Lynch’s most coherent works, with a great cast (Hopper is just plain nuts) and haunting music and a dream-like atmosphere.  Sexy and disturbing just how Lynch should be.



The finest gangster movie ever made, fast, packed with ideas, dialogue, people getting wacked, great dialogue and great performances throughout.  Martin Scorsese at his very best.


The Shining

Stunningly filmed, creepy as hell, scary, with an amazing Jack Nicholson and a true directing auteur in the shape of the late Stanley Kubrick.  The best horror movie ever made?  Quite possibly.


Top Ten Movies 2009

Well after much consideration, here is my end fo year list.

Please note that this is a top ten of the movies I watched this year, and some may be older that 2009.

1.   Gran Torino

2.   Avatar

3.   Let The Right One In

4.   Taken

5.   Juno

6.   Slumdog Millionaire

7.   Star Trek

8.   Drag Me To Hell

9.   The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button

10. Watchmen

Gran Torino

Viewed – 03 March 2009  Cinema

Isn’t it great when you go into a film expecting something in particular, only to discover its something else entirely?  That was the case with this come-back vehicle for screen legend Clint Eastwood after a wilderness period directing rather than starring.  Clint plays an elderly war veteran who has just lost his wife, is somewhat estranged from his two sons (despite their best intentions) and lives in a street where most of the neighbours are foreign.  All he seems to care about is his faithful dog Daisy and his classic 70’s Gran Torino muscle car.


Playing a mean, suspicious and generally unpleasant old guy would perhaps come as not great viewing if it was another actor, but in Clint’s hands its charming, funny and extremely engrossing, as this set-in-his-ways man befriends a Chinese family after some trouble with a local gang of hoodlums, and discovers a new lease of life through a young boy who he see’s great potential in.

This is a gentle and emotional tale is held together by some great performances, a quality script and moments that pulled this viewer in and made him think about life and that ticking clock in all of us.  If you have anyone who is elderly, be it a friend or relative this is guaranteed to tug at the heart strings, and with Clint still trying to be that tough unstoppable hero-with-an-edge honed so perfectly in Dirty Harry and the like, its also makes for great cinema.  Additionally, the other cast members shine despite being newcomers (Clint chose real life kids from similar neighbourhoods to reflect authenticity, and it works).

One of the most memorable visits to the cinema I’ve had in a long while.

Verdict: 5 /5