1995 / Director. Albert & Allen Hughes.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
The Hughes Brothers burst onto the scene with their debut film MENACE II SOCIETY in 1993. That was a confronting and violent urban drama, which announced them as important filmmakers. Their follow up film was DEAD PRESIDENTS, a different sort of movie that takes place in Brooklyn during the 1960s and 70s. It tells the story of a young black man who leaves to fight in Vietnam and returns to face hardship. A rocky relationship. A daughter he never met and gangsters interfering with his family. When he loses his job he calls upon his close friends to pull a heist on an armoured truck. The fallout is a violent and unpredicted confrontation. Upon its release DEAD PRESIDENTS was met with mixed reviews and little fanfare. It came at a time when Quentin Tarantino was the new kid in town, shaking up Hollywood... and so this film was either deemed to be an imitation or it simply collapsed under the expectations. I think that it's a solid drama, told well and made skilfully. I hadn't seen the film in over ten years and when I watched it tonight I was actually shocked at how violent and gruesome it is. The war scenes are truly abhorrent and depict a reality in a way that few films have done before. The street violence is also graphic and has a real impact. I had also forgotten what a great ensemble cast it features, including: Chris Tucker, Keith David, Freddy Rodriguez, Terrence Howard, Bokeem Woodbine and Martin Sheen. Aside from David and Sheen, all of these names were relatively unknown at the time and have since gone on to have big Hollywood careers. The imagery is striking and the 60s and 70's era is recreated wonderfully. Perhaps DEAD PRESIDENTS has appreciated with time. I certainly packs the same punch I remember it having and it was a bold and courageous follow up to MENACE II SOCIETY. Revisit this one if you're able.
2014 / Director. David Fincher.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
Whenever David Fincher releases a new film the conversation quickly turns to what people consider to be his best. And with each release, the decision becomes more difficult. I cannot say with certainty that GONE GIRL is his best film but I definitely need more time to mull it over because it is a clear contender. Right now I am not sure that there is a better director of 'thriller' than Fincher and this new one is truly excellent. It tells the story of woman who goes missing under suspicious circumstances and her husband who becomes the prime suspect. The accusation is supported by his unusual demeanor in the face of adversity and the projections of guilt thrust upon him by the tabloid media. To say any more is to deny you the pleasure of experiencing the film for yourself. What I can say is that it is immaculately done. Fincher is never one to fear a long running time and at a lengthy 150 minute duration, GONE GIRL never sags. It's a taut, enthralling and fascinating film. The performances are exceptional and Ben Affleck (yet again) flips a big fat proverbial bird at his critics. The biggest revelation for me was Tyler Perry. He has always irked me and I've never been a fan. I have often found his attempts to cross over from comedy to drama (as a performer) to be laborious and forced... but he NAILS IT in GONE GIRL. He plays the ruthless celebrity attorney eager to take on the case and he stole the show for me. Everyone else is great too. The score was done by Fincher's newly appointed regulars, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, who previously scored THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO and THE SOCIAL NETWORK. Their new score is another winner. It perfectly suits Fincher's style and it never forces itself above the story. Sometimes less is more and Reznor and Ross know this well. GONE GIRL is a suspenseful thriller, no doubt, but it is also a chilling commentary on the state of modern media and society's willingness to accept trial by media. The national frenzy that unfolds throughout this story is frightening. I cannot wait to watch this one again and come back to you with a more resolved verdict. Is it Fincher's best?? Could be. Not sure. I do suspect it will be up for all kinds of awards come Oscar time. It's one of the year's best for me.
2014 / Director. Doug Liman.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
Mild Spoiler Alert.
I've never given Doug Liman much credit. I have enjoyed some of his films while others have been mediocre and he's never really given me a reason to shout "FUCK YEAH!". Well that time has come and his latest film EDGE OF TOMORROW is amongst the best action sci-fi movies of the past decade. The premise, as most people have noted, is essentially a sci-fi war version of GROUNDHOG DAY. I usually resist making those types of typical statements but that's the simple truth of it. Earth is being invaded by an alien race and time is running out. Tom Cruise plays an army PR officer who finds himself unwillingly on the front line of the war's deciding battle. He is killed only moments into the fight and suddenly wakes up to find the day repeated. The same routine plays out and he dies, wakes up and then dies again. Discovering that his body absorbed some of the alien DNA he begins to use his replay ability to find an effective way to outsmart the enemy forces. His day is relived over and over and over... and with each re-do he gets smarter and closer to victory. The plot may sound generic and annoyingly repetitive but it's quite the opposite. Doug Liman has directed a smart, edgy and incredibly fun action movie that breathes new life into the genre. Tom Cruise is excellent and relishes the role. He could have easily phoned this performance in but he embraces the concept and has fun with it. I imagine it would have been an exhausting shoot too with his role being physical for the entire duration. It's fast paced, action packed and hypnotic. As crazy as it sounds, the repetition isn't at all repetitious. For all of the complex CGI throughout the movie there is an equal amount of practical FX, which elevates the texture above a lot of other typical blockbusters. The support cast is good too with Emily Blunt, Brendan Gleeson, Bill Paxton and Noah Hathaway lending an added chunk of credibility. EDGE OF TOMORROW might just make my top 10 this year... we'll see. Whatever the case... FUCK YEAH!!