Deliverance is a good film, but not my thing


Four adventurous businessmen intent on seeing the Cahulawassee River before it is turned into a huge lake take a canoe trip into the American backcountry, only for their excursion to take a deadly turn.
Four urban businessmen bound for wilderness take a trip into the country for a weekend canoe trip on the Cahulawassee River. It turns out to be everything they had hoped for – a terrific adventure – but soon enough they run into a couple of rednecks, and the trip takes a turn for the worst. Over the course of a few hours, the men are exposed to the true extent of what man and nature are capable of, putting their lives at risk, and making their little vacation one that none of them shall ever forget, no matter how hard they try.

A film that my dad has been on at me to watch for a while is Deliverance, so this weekend I finally got round to doing that. There were some good performances, and some great cinematography during the rapids sequences, but the film, while being a classic and held in very esteem by many people, isn’t my favourite of all the films that my dad has recommended to me.

As I’ve just mentioned, there were a couple of good performances in this film, and my favourite came from Jon Voight who played Ed. We got to see his character make a real transition from the start of the film right up to the end, and the change that Voight’s performances underwent in accordance with this was brilliant. I always enjoy watching Voight after becoming a fan of his work as Mickey in the series Ray Donovan, so I had no qualms about watching him here, in fact, he was one of the big plus points for me. 

I did like the story, and I think what worked best for it was the fact that it was so simple. It was not guilty of trying too hard, and combined with the performances that lay at the helm of this film, plus the wonderful shots of the more wild landscapes, it was pulled together nicely and made for a good watch. I have also read that Deliverance is considered to be one of the most disturbing films of all time, and I can see where the people who have said that are coming from. What makes this film so impactful is the heightened possibility that something along the lines of what took place here could happen in real life. There was just a very strong sense of realism surrounding the storyline and the events that took place that I think have a tendency to hit audiences hard.

Of course, I did state that this is not my favourite of the films that my dad has recommended to me. However, it’s not for what was wrong with it, I simply think that is was not my thing. I thought it was a good film, and some aspects of it were done very well indeed, but it just wasn’t the type film that was my cup of tea.

All in all, Deliverance was a film that, despite being as unsettling as it was, was also an enjoyable watch. It may not completely float my boat for some reason, but I can still say that this is a film you should consider watching if you haven’t yet seen it. There are some cracking performances and a very believable story that make for more than decent viewing, even if like me, you may not be in a hurry to experience again. 

Green Room gets the green light


After witnessing a murder at a new-nazi skinhead bar, a punk rock band has to fight for survival.

Pat (Anton Yelchin) takes his punk rock band, The Ain’t Rights, to a night club in a bid to take them one step closer to their big break. They aren’t quite as well received as they had hoped, but their little tour takes a much more grisly turn when they walk back into their dressing room to discover a body with a knife sticking out of it’s head. What follows is a major struggle to escape the clutches of the bar’s owner, Darcy Banker (Patrick Stewart) as he seeks to take out the only witnesses to the brutal murder and eliminate all traces of what happened in the club that night.

Last year, Green Room hit cinemas and was greeted by a lot of very good reviews, so when I got the DVD after Christmas I was very eager to see the film. However, it is only now that I have been able to finally watch it. Was it worth the wait? Yes, but that’s not it say that it didn’t have it’s faults.

As one of those survival-type films, there is of course a real opportunity for some great performances to emerge, but also for some very, very bad ones to rear their heads as well. Thankfully, I did enjoy the key performances here, which makes a change for a film with elements of horror. Anton Yelchin was brilliant to watch, and reminded us of a talent that was lost way too soon, however I think my favourite person in this film has to be Imogen Poots as Amber. She and Yelchin worked really well together, and I thought this showed as their characters came together in order to try and get out alive. What was the best thing about Poots here though was the fact that she was able to play a pretty intelligent character, and this was shown at various points throughout the film.

Now, it probably isn’t worth much coming from me as I am notorious for jumping at everything, but there moments dotted throughout Green Room that made me twitch a bit when they happened. It certainly had a few good thrills laced throughout it’s run, although it took a little longer than I’d have liked for these to start happening.

My biggest gripes about the film focus on things that I felt should have been done, but for some reason were not. One of these things was the use of Patrick Stewart, or lack it, shall we say. I just think he should have been on-screen more than he was considering what a wonderful actor he is. My other main issue was the ending. It just happened. Somebody said something, and then the credits started rolling. It just felt a bit sudden, and I thought it let what had been a pretty solid film down quite a bit.

On the whole, Green Room is a film that is well worth watching. More of a thriller than a horror, it had plenty of moments that certainly made my heart beat a bit faster. It has a few issues, but nothing too major, and a couple of great lead performances make this a good watch, and one that I’m very happy to say I’ve seen, even if we have seen films of a similar nature in the past. 

Michael Collins is essential Paddy’s Day viewing for me


The story of the man who led a guerrilla war against the U.K, aided negotiations in the creation of the Irish Free State, and led the National Army in the Irish Civil War.
Following the massive defeat of Irish rebels in the 1916 Easter Rising, Michael Collins (Liam Neeson) decides new strategies are needed in order to gain Irish independence. He first begins to use what is now recognised as guerrilla tactics and the organised killings of Irish informants for the U.K. government, and then later on members of British intelligence. By 1921, the Brits are willing to negotiate a settlement, and Collins is reluctantly sent over for the talks by Sinn Fein president Eamonn DeValera (Alan Rickman), who knows full well that the agreement reached will disappoint some. He condemns Collins when he returns with a Treaty declaring an Irish Free State and not a Republic, and Collins’ longest friend Harry Borland (Aidan Quinn) rejects him following the emergence of his relationship with Kitty Kiernan (Julia Roberts). What unfolds following this landmark settlement is a civil war as Collins struggles against those who want complete and unconditional independence for the whole country.

Yesterday was St. Patrick’s Day, so it seemed only right to take a look back on an Irish film, and what better than to watch a film that focuses on the fight for independence for the country. Now, of course this is a film that is a product of Hollywood, so with regard to historical accuracy there may be some discretions, however this a wonderful study of the man who I guess could be considered the Braveheart of Ireland and is a fine watch for anyone who would maybe like to get more of a feel for what actually went on in the build up to the declaration of the Irish Free State, and the the fall out that came from that.

Liam Neeson did a wonderful job of encapsulating all the different aspects of Collins in this film, however one thing that I feel was most important was the fact that he really managed to show that Collins didn’t want to cause so much violence, but that it was the only way. Collins was a very conflicted man with regards to both the methods he chose to deploy as a leader of the rebels, but he was also torn over the personal relationships he had with those who initially worked with him, but then went their separate ways and began to turn against him. This was something else that I believe to have been portrayed very well by Neeson.

This is quite a star-studded cast, however there is one member of the line-up that I can’t help but feel didn’t quite belong there, as much as I love her work. Julia Roberts really does seem quite out of place as Collins’ love interest, Kitty Kiernan. I also am unsure as to whether she was a real figure in this story, or whether she was introduced purely just for romantic interest. Either way, she just didn’t fit in there, and it pains me to say that about Roberts, but it is kind of true.

Now, I mentioned at the beginning that some of what is shown in the film may need to be taken with a pinch of salt. I can only assume this to be the case due the fact that when I was first shown the film by my parents a few years ago, key moments would often pass by only to be followed with, ‘…and that’s a load a shite,’ or, ‘…that never happened,’ from my dad, as if he was the fact checker for the film. It is common knowledge however that the Hollywood machine can twist things slightly for it’s own benefit, so if you do watch the film, or have watched it, expect only a feel for the period to come from it.

Overall, Michael Collins was a grand addition to my St. Patrick’s Day viewing this year. It is always a good film to watch, whoever watching it yesterday meant it had a greater sense of occasion for me. For anyone who hasn’t seen the film, I would recommend it, and those of you who haven’t viewed it in a while might just fancy revisiting it again after reading this I hope.

Primal Fear wasn’t mind-blowing, but it wasn’t frighteningly bad either


When a priest is murdered, one of his altar boys is accused of doing the deed, however the truth of what really happened is quite deeply buried.Hot-shot defence attorney Martin Vail (Richard Gere) takes on the case of poor altar boy Aaron (Edward Norton) who stands accused of murdering a well-respected priest. He offers to fight Aaron’s corner pro bono, convinced that the boy is not guilty of killing the man of the cloth. As he spends time with him, Martin finds more and more material that could help Aaron’s case in court, the most important being that he appears to suffer from some kind of multiple personality disorder, as agreed by psychologist Dr. Molly Arrington (Frances McDormand). This could prove significant in court, where Martin and his client are up against ambitious young prosecutor Janet Venable (Laura Linney), whose history with the defence means she is determined to win the fight. However, one thing remains uncertain right throughout the trial, and that is, what exactly happened in the priest’s apartment, and who did it?

Another film that I have been waiting a while to see is Primal Fear. I had heard mainly good things about it, and after watching it this weekend I can confirm that it is a solid watch, however I had half-suspected the ending. Oh well, at least I can finally cross it off my list now!

I really liked Richard Gere as Martin Vail. What made him such a good character was the fact that, despite being a big time defence lawyer, he wasn’t a really self-conceited, egotistic type of person, which is often what happens with these types of characters. It is later explained to you in the film why he isn’t a complete idiot as well, and he just feels human when you watch him. I can’t help but feel that Gere is slightly type-cast as a rich man with a successful career however, because he played someone of a similar status in Pretty Woman, which happens to be one of the few other films I have seen him in. Nonetheless, I enjoyed watching him, and will happily sit and watch his work in other films in future.

This is the film that made Edward Norton, and it’s not difficult to see why. Much like James McAvoy in Split – another film involving a multiple personality type disorder – Norton owned the role by making the transitions between his two personalities so clear. There was a look in his eye that defined each persona before he spoke, and the vocal characterisations were very strong, really completing the characters. I can safely say that Norton’s early career, to the best of my knowledge, was dominated by some excellent performances.

Many of the performances in the film are very good, however it still remains only a solid watch in my opinion, not an unforgettable one. This is mainly because I had kind of seen the ending coming, so I really wasn’t that surprised when it happened, and for that reason I doubt the film is going to have much of a lasting impact on me.

Overall, while I would recommend Primal Fear, I would warn people to bare in mind that it doesn’t really break any new ground. Perhaps when it was released 21 years ago, things were different, but the film currently doesn’t have the punch I would have liked it to. That being said, it is still a good watch, and I am happy to say that I have finally seen it after waiting for such a long time.

Just Charlie review for Midlands Movies

This review first appeared on Midlands Movies

A gifted footballer struggles with her identity as she becomes more and more aware that they are a girl trapped inside a boy’s body, while her family and friends also try their best to come to terms with these changes.
When young footballing talent Charlie (Harry Gilby) receives an offer for a trial at his county’s football team it would appear that he quite literally has the world at his feet. If he plays his cards right, his future could be sorted. However, a life of luxury doing what he loves is more daunting to Charlie than one would initially think it would be. Trapped in the body of a boy, Charlie is painfully torn between living up to his father’s expectations and following the life he never could, and shedding his ill-fitting skin. When he unintentionally fronts up to his family, Charlie’s action threatens to tear his family apart forever.

Just Charlie is a Midlands-based project that takes a look at the story of a young boy who is a young girl at heart. It is a wonderfully made film that sensitively deals with an issue that has recently started to have more and more light shed on it.

I really enjoyed a number of the performances here, although I absolutely must start off by saying hat’s off to young Harry Gilby for his portrayal of Charlie here. For a first appearance in a feature length film he did a terrific job. It was a truly brilliant performance that I think showed real maturity on Gilby’s behalf. I think a lot of very experienced actors would have to seriously consider taking on a role such as this because it is a very sensitive issue that has only really become something that has started to be discussed publicly very recently. There is potentially a lot that could go wrong when someone plays a transgender person as there is such a huge number of ways the role could be unknowingly mishandled. For me though, Gilby did a very good job of portraying Charlie, so kudos to him.

Scot Williams played Charlie’s dad, and again, this was another blinding performance. Some of his scenes with Gilby were horrible to watch, but this had such an impact on me as a viewer. I cannot begin to imagine the toll that a situation such as the one presented here in the film must take on a family, but if I were to try to, the results would come pretty close to so many of the scenes that the two actors shared here. As difficult and upsetting as they were to watch at times, they really did the job very well. Williams managed to play Paul in a way that meant you didn’t view him as a heartless idiot, but as a man who was grieving in some way, meaning you were able to empathise with him somewhat.

I have to praise writer Peter Machen on the story he created for the film. He managed to write something that covered just a bout all bases of Charlie’s life – home, school, football, and everything in between. He also managed to do all this without making the film feel as thought it was trying to be much bigger than it actually was. While it may have branched out and touched upon the issue in a variety of settings, the story still felt personal and intimate enough for you to really be drawn into it.

All in all, Just Charlie is a beautiful film that pulls no punches in delivering it’s message, yet still brings everything back round for a happy ending (or should I really say beginning in this case?). The top notch writing covers so many things while the truthful performances do a great job in tying everything together very nicely indeed. This is a touching journey of a film that is definitely worth every moment spent watching it.

There’s a reason Moonlight (eventually) won Best Picture

*Please bare in mind I wrote this review before last night’s Oscars


A film chronicling the minefield of adolescence for a young boy struggling to find who he is.
A young man with a difficult home life comes of age in Miami during America’s ‘War On Drugs’ era. The tale of his adolescence is told through three chapters which detail every element of teenage years and young adulthood, and highlight his struggle in trying to discover who he really is.

Maybe I’ve left things very understated with that short synopsis of Moonlight, but then, maybe I haven’t. The film has a very basic concept, but, much like Fences, does the simple things very well. Perhaps the reason it has been so well received is that it is a film that resonates with everyone on some level. Whatever it is, it has ensured that the film has taken the world by storm.

Every single performance in this film is wonderful, but there are a couple of stand outs for me. Naomie Harris was very, very good as Paula, Chiron’s addict mother. She was a far cry from her previous performances as Eve Moneypenny in the James Bond films, and I think showed her capabilities as an actress as she has had no previous experience with addiction herself. She gave a convincing performance, and the progression, or should I say downward spiral, that we see with her character is crystal clear throughout the film.

Mahershala Ali was also terrific, although I have to be honest I had expected to see more of him, especially given the fact that he received an Oscar nomination for his work. One scene in particular was what sold his whole performance to me. If one thing is for certain, regardless of how long he was on-screen for, he made a lasting impact, which is what you want with every character you see in every film, otherwise what was the point of them being there in the first place?

As I’ve already said, the entire premise of this film is so simple, but that is where it’s genius lies. For me, it shares similarities with Boyhood with its tale of adolescence, but perhaps works out slightly better than the other film as it has a runtime that comes in at about an hour less. The struggles depicted throughout the film are along the lines of what we all have to deal with during this period of our lives and is why it works so well. 

Director Barry Jenkins really has accomplished something of greatness with Moonlight. One of the film’s greatest strengths was it’s use of silence. When you sit and think about it, there is a relatively low number of conversations that take place throughout the film – the spaces where nothing is spoken verbally screams way more than what the characters actually say, especially when it comes to Chiron. I can only assume that it was Jenkins’s awareness of the effectiveness of the sound of silence that made it almost like another character throughout the film.

On the whole, I’d say Moonlight is a very good film, but I have a feeling it may not clean up at the Oscars. That is no reflection on the film, but I just think it may be up against some stiff competition and there is one film that will definitely win a few awards. As good as it is, I also cannot quite say that it is my absolute favourite of all of this year’s nominees I have seen, but that does not mean it is not worth the time spent watching it.

Oscars Predictions 2017

I’ll keep things short and sweet because I’m a bit tight on time. Here’s my predictions for this year’s Oscars ceremony which will be taking place later on. Of course, you already knew that, so why am I telling you that information like it is news to everyone but me?
Best Supporting Actor:

Want to win: Jeff Bridges as Marcus Hamilton – Personally I think this is the only category Hell Or High Water stands any chance in, and while I think others should have been nominated before him for the film, it’s good that it has at least received some recognition .
Who will win: Mahershala Ali as Juan – He had a relatively small amount of screen time in Moonlight, but didn’t he make the best of it? I think a couple of scenes in particular will have done him a lot of favours, and rightly so – he was very, very good.

Best Supporting Actress:

Want to win: Viola Davis as Rose Maxson – If she does not win the award for Best Supporting Actress, is there even any point to the Oscars anymore? For my full rundown of her performance, see my review of Fences, but just for now, I’ll say that it was a very raw, moving performance that was so good it didn’t even feel like I was watching an actress play a character.
Who will win: Viola Davis – See above.

Best Director:

Want to win: Denis Villeneuve, Arrival – I have thoroughly enjoyed three of Villeneuve’s most recent films, and was gutted last year when Sicario failed to receive any big nominations. This year with Arrival, it could be his year, but sadly I think something else will see that it yet again does not happen.
Who will win: Damien Chazelle, La La Land – I’m not going to say he didn’t do a good job, because he did. It must have been a mammoth task directing some of those huge chorus scenes throughout the film. I just think it’s too predictable that La La Land will win in near enough every category it has had a nomination.

Best Actress:

Want to win: Natalie Portman as Jackie Kennedy – To say Portman absolutely nailed this role would be an understatement, that is how brilliant she was. She made Jackie an intriguing watch, and I very much doubt that this would have been the case without her. It’s almost impossible for me to imagine anyone else in the role, which has got to be a sign, surely?
Who will win: Emma Stone as Mia Dolan – She has won every other award she has been up for for her role in La La Land, so why should we assume the Oscars will be any different? Again, I’ll say that she didn’t do a bad job, but I just think she wasn’t as good here as she has been in other films that she received no awards for whatsoever.

Best Actor:

Want to win: Casey Affleck as Lee Chandler – I loved Manchester By The Sea and I think this was largely due to the performances in it. Affleck was wonderful to watch, and he had a very good uncle-nephew dynamic going on with co-star Lucas Hedges. He is a very underrated actor, but I think an Oscar win would change that for the better.
Who will win: Casey Affleck – See above.

Best Picture:

Want to win: Manchester By The Sea – It was a brilliant film to watch and I loved the honesty with which it portrayed how some of life’s worst situations play out with some very funny moments taking place. 
Who will win: La La Land – Hollywood loves Hollywood, so a film about Hollywood up for a Best Picture award at Hollywood’s biggest night of the year is bound to win. It wasn’t a bad film, but it sure as hell wasn’t this good either.
So there’s my predictions laid out in black and white all for you. Take them with a pinch of salt, and don’t go betting your house and life savings on any of these being right – I am notoriously bad at things like this.