On November 22nd, 1963, President John F Kennedy was killed, supposedly by lone gunman Lee Harvey Oswald, who himself was killed by a man named Jack Ruby before the case could go to trial. Despite several other theories, the case was dropped for three years, until Jim Garrison, the District Attorney of New Orleans, picked it up again after noticing some discrepancies within the Warren Report, written to document the details of the assassination. Garrison and his team re-launch the investigation, certain that there is more to it than simply one man and his gun. Continue reading →
Four Years into the American Civil War, Abraham Lincoln (Daniel Day-Lewis), the 16th King of the United States of America, has his eyes set on not just ending the conflict, but abolishing slavery – over which the war is being predominantly fought – in the process. In order to do this he must pass the 13th amendment to the United States House of Parliament, which would outlaw involuntary servitude, but there’s two problems. One, he’s twenty votes short, and two, he needs to pass it before the war ends, or else it may never happen. And on top of this he’s got some familial woes too – a nutty wife and bull-headed son who wants to go off and fight for his beliefs.
In this most bleak and convoluted offering from the Coen brothers you rarely witness a characters ultimate destiny, although they are hinted at enough to make a fair assumption. Josh Brolin’s Llewelyn Moss, a welder out hunting deer in south west Texas, stumbles upon a botched drug deal and, finding a suitcase full of money, goes immediately to the authorities before returning home to his wife and living a largely uneventful life. No, of course not, he legs it, instigating a game of cat and mouse with Javier Barden’s Anton Chigurh, a ruthless, near robotic hitman with an unusual and extreme set of morals, himself pursued by Tommy Lee Jones’ small town sheriff Ed Tom Bell. Featuring a stellar supporting cast including Woody Harrelson, Stephen Root and Kelly Macdonald, some incredible scenery, lensed by Oscar winning regular Coen cinematographer Roger Deakins and highly memorable dialogue lifted directly from Cormac McCarthy’s seminal novel of the same name, this is a truly inspirational and unique film. Bardem in particular completely embodies his character, becoming one of the most iconic villains to grace our screens in modern times. Brolin however strikes me as an actor from the ranks of Shia LaBoeuf and Sam Worthington, snapped up and promoted by big name directors without having the talent to back up the expectations, flooding the cinemas with frankly mediocre acting ability.
Men in Black is a universally adored film, I think. But why is it so loved? What is the secret? Well MIB is that rarest of creatures, a film that is all things to all people. It is not simply a big budget summer blockbuster action movie, nor is it just an effects-driven sci-fi film, or a well crafted character piece, a buddy-cop movie or an offbeat bureaucratic comedy. It is all these things and more, telling the story of Agent J (Will Smith, now a fully fledged movie star after Bad Boys and Independence Day) a new recruit to the secretive Men in Black, an organisation tasked with managing the many alien lifeforms on Earth, without the knowledge of the general public. In true buddy movie form, J is partnered with Tommy Lee Jones’ grizzled yet laconic Agent K (who may well be too old for this shit), but I don’t remember Riggs and Murtaugh driving upside down in a tunnel, Tango and Cash delivering an alien squid baby or Turner and Hooch getting covered in slime – OK, bad example. Continue reading →