REVIEW – HELL OR HIGH WATER

REVIEW – HELL OR HIGH WATER – Weirdly, Chris Pine is quite good in this.

Chris Pine and Ben Foster play two bank robbing brothers, hunted across Texas by Jeff Bridges and Gil Birmingham in Hell or High Water. Written by Sicario scribe Taylor Sheridan and directed by David MacKenzie, the movie is a superior crime caper, whose only sin is wanting everybody to be likeable. The narrative changes the characters to accommodate. For instance, the two young brothers begin the film as bumbling amateurs but finish like masterminds.

It’s like No Country for Old Men without the darkness. Tragedy and violence will happen, but because of misunderstandings. There are killings, but without hatred. That said the violence has palpable emotional consequences. Structurally it most resembles Heat with the cops and robbers as estranged brothers idea. The acting is superb and both the younger and older generation acquit themselves well. Bridges and Birmingham are great fun to watch as a squabbling pair, like an old married couple waiting for the divorce papers to arrive.

The score by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis is also worth a listen.

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5 FACTS YOU NEVER KNEW ABOUT EMILY BLUNT

HOLLYWOOD – The Studio Exec FACT squad today got the train so that they could give you the low down on the Girl on the Train: Emily Blunt.

So here are 5 Emily Blunt FACTS:

One. Although she’s in a film called The Girl on the Train, she has never in fact been on a train in her life because she is too rich and in England, rich people are not allowed on trains.

Two. Emily is a keen smoker of what our Jamaican friends’ call the Herb. So much so that in her native England, her surname has become synonymous with a reefer cigarette. So someone might say ‘pass me that “Blunt”, please. I want to get “high”‘.

Three. When making the Science Fiction film, Emily was criticized by her co-star Tom Cruise for repeatedly messing up scenes so they had to do them again and again. ‘It was crazy,’ says Tom. ‘She would keep changing the lines. In the end we rewrote the script so we could use all the footage.’ Emily Blunt wasn’t in Cowboys and Aliens. That was Olivia Wilde.

Four. Emily Blunt’s favorite food is cauliflower, which she eats from a bucket.

Five. Denis Villeneuve cast Emily in Sicario because Emily herself hired a sicario and threatened to have him killed if he didn’t. ‘I’ve heard of the method,’ Denis told the Exec. ‘But this is ridiculous.’

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TOP 10 FILMS OF 2015

HOLLYWOOD – The Studio Exec has put together a list of the top films of 2015, in no particular order.

2015 was an odd year for film. A bit underwhelming until December it has to be said. The blockbusters busted blocks but the most successful (until December) was the M’eh-fest of Jurassic World. Everything looked very familiar. There was an Avengers movie (I think) and a new Bond film. The two main European festivals saw the main prize picked up by average movies that won’t escape the festival circuit. Of course, December suddenly gave us a year’s worth of interesting stuff. What am I talking about? Jesus, why am I even writing this? I’m hungover and tired and it is now time I went to bed so here’s the Goddamned list:

Bone Tomahawk

Gruesome and beautiful western, both elegiac and horrific, starring Matthew Fox, Kurt Russell, Patrick Wilson and Richard Jenkins. It will certainly divide audiences, if not bifurcate them. Here’s the review.

Mad Max: Fury Road

A remake that if anything exceeded its original source material. George Miller brought his post-apocalyptic car chase into the territory of the purest genre cinema. Witty, exciting, incredible. Here’s the review.

Son of Saul

Devastating portrayal of the life in the day of a Sonderkommando in Auschwitz. A film I never want to see again, but everyone should see once. Review here. 

The Revenant

Leonardo diCaprio crawls through hell to get to an Oscar. On the way he features in one of the most beautiful and stunningly immersive cinematic experiences of the year. For the review click here. 

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

It wasn’t shit. Click here for the review.

Crimson Peak

Guillermo Del Toro goes full on Gothic with Tom Hiddleston, Mia Wasikowska and Jessica Chastain in a Roger Corman/ Stanley Kubrick inspired visual treat. Review here.

Anomalisa 

Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson’s stop animation tale of angst should have won at Venice. I’ll write a review some time soon.

Sicario

Made me want to see Blade Runner 2. Or at least made me not be too scared about it. Review here. 

Call Me Lucky

There have been some great documentaries this year and Call Me Lucky by Bobcat Goldthwait was one of the best. Charting the life of comedian Barry Crimmins this was a portrait of an unsung American hero, read the review here.

So Happy New Year and all that jazz. Let’s hope 2016 brings us some movies that’ll light our collective fires.

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SICARIO – REVIEW

SICARIO – REVIEW: Denis Villeneuve’s cross border thriller is a dark, complex investigation into the front line of the drug war.

Emily Blunt plays Kate Macer, a Police officer who graduates from kicking in doors to join a special task force led by Josh Brolin’s amoral agent Matt. Matt is unconventional and so is his squad. The flipflop wearing dudester is obviously into rule breaking, with some kind of blessing from on high and we’re prepared for a classic Hollywood narrative as the young straight laced rookie learns to bend the rules to get results, getting a little crooked on the way. But like many things with Sicario, expectations are raised only to be subverted. Lines are crossed as well as borders as the team motor into a Mexico town to collect a potential witness, a  thundering convoy into a hellish Mexican town is executed with brutal excitement, an almost documentary immersion into the world.  A fog of compromise and doubt pervades the movie, which each character tries to cut through in their own way. The half-light of the Mexico-US border is caught by Roger Deakins amazing cinematography that imbues proceedings with a the kind of badlands noir that No Country for Old Men hinted at.

Another member of the squad is the apparently stateless  Alejandro, played by a magnificent Benico Del Toro. No one is sure where he comes from or what his relationship is to the cartels, or what his legal role is. And he glowers with the kind of dark history of a dead man walking, an instrument of darkness who Matt employs but never truly controls. Former TV actor Taylor Sheridan has crafted a screenplay that provides the sort of grim fare that made the Seventies brilliant and Emily Blunt does her best to maintain her calm even as the film veers away from her and into much darker territory. By the end we don’t really know where we are and for the first time, I was genuinely looking forward to the Blade Runner sequel.

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