True story about former olympian Molly Bloom and her unlikely rise to become the organiser of the world's highest stake poker game, all of which led her to become targeted by the FBI who were convinced she had ties to the Russian mob. This was a great little story, plenty of flashy tales on how she sunk deeper into this world from humble beginnings, after an accident and injury brought her Ski jumping career to an abrupt end. Jessica Chastain plays the title role and she looks ravishing on screen while really making Molly's attitude and character stand out, but just like in the Jungle Book, Idris Elba was here to steal the limelight with another great performance as her lawyer and his speech toward the end was absolutely brilliant.
There were some other great moments too and I was particularly intrigued as to who the unnamed people might have been who kept getting teased throughout (famous celebs/lawyers/politicians and sports stars who, sadly, we are never to find out as Molly never gave them up in real life). To have the scruples to keep these identities a secret is testament to her character, especially as she was offered multi million pound book deals to tell all, this above all else really makes you root for her character. I also sort of liked the card playing scenes which revealed all the crazy hands that made and lost so much money, although if you aren't a poker pro, some of the lingo may be a bit lost in translation. If I'm honest, despite my rookie adventures into Texas hold em' when pissed at the casino at 3am, I am certainly no pro, but the good far outweighed the bad here...so to put it in Poker terms, this was more of a good straight than a royal flush, but definitely worth a gamble!
Darkest Hour - 8 out of 10
After slating the "Churchill" movie not so long back, how refreshing it was to find that this portrayal did the man some justice. An absolutely brilliant performance courtesy of Gary Oldman and a quite stunning cosmetic to really allow him to immerse himself completely into the role. Every criticism I had for the ill aforementioned piss shower I watched a few weeks ago was ever more apparent with how much better this film was displayed. It looked far better, the whole cast was far better, the focus of the story was far better and, aside from one particularly obvious made up dramatised event, it felt a lot more honest a story of the man. Even that scene in question was done so in a way to emphasise Winston's affinity with the public opinion regarding going to war and I really can forgive that. The speech scene at the end inspires goosebumps and it's certainly no shock that Oldman is in the nominations for an academy award. For normal movie goers worldwide this is a good historical biography on your screens, for us Brits, pop on the Elgar and enjoy the pomp and circumstance old chaps. Rule Britannia!
Small Town Crime - 6 out of 10
Ok, so this is a good movie, but its not a great movie. Its a good 6, but it will hardly have you clambering for a rewatch. Sometimes you get a movie like this. A film you enjoy as you watch but then afterwards you know...you just KNOW you probably won't be remembering it in a few years. I watched it a few days before writing this and i'm struggling now. What I remember is that John Hawkes plays an alcoholic ex cop who takes it upon himself to try and solve the murder of a young girl he finds the body of and, while there is decent moments sprinkled throughout this tale with an OK story, it's also not the most original. But for a movie not packed with that many huge stars thankfully there is enough to make this at least a worthwhile once over. As thrillers go, it's more sat comfortably with your feet up than edge of your seat, but I can recommend you visit the small town of crime for at least one solo visit!
Borg McEnroe - 7 out of 10
Sports biopic focusing on the rivalry between two tennis players, this film works only because of the two very good lead roles from Shia LaBeouf (McEnroe) and Sverrir Gudnarson (Borg). Both look great as the parts, particularly Gudnarson who really does look the image of the character he was portraying. I should warn that there is a lot of Swedish speaking parts throughout this so if you ain't one for subtitles this might not be for you but for those who can live with that, this is a gripping and dramatic look at one of the best tennis finals of all time. I'm not even remotely interested in the sport of tennis normally but I couldn't help be gripped by this movie as it reaches its climatic end. It reminded me slightly of "Rush" with two titans of a sport giving absolutely everything to better their adversary and though I don't feel this was quite as good as that movie, if your a fan of sports films in general like I am, this will definitely be one you want to watch.
Professor Marston and the Wonder Women - 7 out of 10
A tripod of excellent acting within this great story about the inspiration behind the world's favourite female heroine. Professor Marston (played wonderfully by Luke Evans) who also invented the lie detector, with his wife Elizabeth (also superbly played by Rebecca Hall) both fall in love with an intern called Olive (again lit up on screen by Bella Heathcote) and an unorthodox relationship grows between all 3. You could easily spend the entire time muttering to yourself what a lucky bugger Mr Marston was if you weren't just enjoying a very well written, presented and informative movie. I can't say I knew much about the creation of Wonder Woman, but I certainly had no idea that it stemmed from a good old threesome bonking. Ok, ok, so there was more to it than that, but I get easily distracted by women kissing each other. Seriously though, even if you aren't bothered about Wonder Woman or where she came from this was a good movie nonetheless, riveting in parts and raunchy in others with some real emotion thrown in.
Batman: Gotham By Gaslight - 7 out of 10
Very enjoyable animated movie which looks at a recent adaptation from the comics, that whisks you away to a Victorian Gotham. It's a nice different look at the Dark Knight as he looks to solve the case of Jack the Ripper. Some great voice work by Jennifer Carpenter who plays Selina Kyle and Bruce Greenwood takes on the role of the Bat and I think he delivers a great performance. The story is the real hero of the piece though, it's a really good detective style plot with a nice enough twist toward the end and the animation looks beautiful throughout. They may be getting some pelters for the films at present but thankfully they have not faltered with their animations in the same way, this was far superior to what we have seen from DC on the big screen in the past few years!
The Post - 5 out of 10
Around the time of the Oscars there always seems to be movies like this which get nominations that I just can't for the life of me understand why. This year its "The Post" which underwhelmed me completely! It's not a terrible movie at all. I was ok. Sauntering my way through it, but that's all it was to me, "ok".
It focuses on journalists at the Washington Post uncovering lies made by US governments during the Vietnam war and the coverage leading up to 'Watergate'. It sounds dull reading that back and unfortunately I think that's part of the problem. 'Watergate' for me is one of the most frustratingly boring pieces of history, I get why it was a big deal, but at the same time it just doesn't personally interest me like something (such as the Churchill movie "Darkest Hour" as mentioned above), it also failed to inspire me to want to be interested in it, such as the subject matter covered in the film "Spotlight" from not too long ago, a similar type movie regarding journalists uncovering the truth.
Meryl Streep somehow manages to get a best actress nomination out of this when in truth I don't think she has come close to deserving it in comparison to some of the other names mentioned, perhaps they can't bare to leave such a massive name off their list for once and somehow, for reasons I really don't understand, this movie managed to be nominated for Best Picture. Again, sorry, but for me it is by far and away the worst movie on the nominations list and perhaps only considered because of the inclusion of Streep/Hanks, and the fact it's directed by Spielberg. This is very much Oscars by numbers, serious subject matter + big time director + two big name actors = Oscar nominations. "Ok", but should never be considered great and it wouldn't even be close to winning best movie out of the movies I have listed for this week, let alone for the whole of a year!
Mudbound - 7 out of 10
Racially stirred story about two men who return home from WW2 and try to pick up things where they left off in their home in rural Mississippi. Mississippi of course was ruled by segregation, and bigotry was widely accepted, so for Ronsel Jackson, an African American, he arrives back from Europe finding it particularly difficult to deal with. Through it all he bonds with Jamie McAllan who also served in the war, he too won't accept the racist attitudes of his fellow white people and strikes a friendship with Ronsel displeasing his father.
Jason Mitchell is phenomenal as Ronsel, who has to suffer tremendous ordeals whilst he portrays every emotion from disillusion, heartbreak, terror, and also, love. There is also great support from Garrett Hedlund (Jamie), as well as a great cast all round featuring superb performances from Carey Mulligan, Jason Clarke, Rob Morgan, Mary J Blige and Jonathan Banks. It starts a little slow in pace initially but it really does build to an outstanding second half and though the climax toward the end is difficult to watch, it is breathtaking cinema. This unlike the last movie I mentioned above is every bit worth a nomination, which makes its omission far more baffling to me. In fact the only person to be nominated for their part (Mary J Blige for supporting actress) had the least impact out of any of the other names mentioned above. Go figure! But aside from Oscar politics Mudbound delivers a great film with more than a meaningful reminder and message and that deserves everyone's attention.