milfcast_logo_rgb_smaller_sizeSeven years after my first appearance, I was this week invited back to appear on Milfcast for a third time.  It was great to talk movies with Kai again, and heather for the first time. 

Amongst other things we discuss if TV has overtaken movies and a few TV shows we would like to see made into movies.

Click HERE to hear the show.



A notable month not just for the films I have seen that we will be hearing more about in awards season, but for the fact that I saw my hundredth film of the year.

Nocturnal Animals: Fashion designer Tom Ford decided to make a movie, A Single Man; it was amazingly brilliant if a little depressing.  Colin Firth was better than in The King’s Speech where he won an Oscar.  Seven years passed, Ford’s involvement in the film industry didn’t seem to go beyond dressing James Bond so it appeared he had scratched the directing itch and walked away, far from it.  His first film was good, Nocturnal Animals is outstanding.  The story within a story narrative is brilliantly handled but he brilliance lies not in this subtext, but the overriding subtext. As you would expect Amy Adams is the standout, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon and Aaron Taylor-Johnson all provide great support.nocturnal-animals

Arrival: Denis Villeneuve enters the world of Sci-Fi, but there is so much more going on than a simple alien first contact movie.   Amy Adams second Oscar worthy film of the month.  The cinematography is stunning without being showy with resorting to pretty pictures.  It is impossible to say any more without giving away key plot points.arrival

The Light Between Oceans: A childless couple find an seemingly orphaned baby, everything is great, until it gets complicated.  A beautifully shot film with amazing performances from Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander and Rachel Weisz fails to reach the heights it could have because of an overly contrived story and an overwrought score.the-light-between-oceans

The Beatles: Eight Days a  Week – The Touring Years: Brilliant documentary, I don’t need to give a synopsis as the somewhat awkward title says it all.  A mix of archive footage and talking heads that is both fun and informative.the-beatles-eight-days-a-week-the-touring-years

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: Cards on the table I am not a big Harry Potter fan, I have seen the films and enjoyed them but was never a massive fan.  The Art Deco New York setting looks great but the direction lacks any flair or originality.  The best characters and performances all come from the supporting players: Alison Sudol, Colin Farrell, Dan Fogler and Samantha Morton.fantastic-beasts-and-where-to-find-them

A United Kingdom: If like me, your only knowledge of director Amma Asante was from her part in Grange Hill in the 1980’s then Belle (2013) would have come a little out the blue.  But if like me you had seen Belle, you would have been eagerly anticipating her next firm.  A United Kingdom does not disappoint.  Set in the 1940’s, the true story of Seretse Khama (David Oyelowo), the heir to the throne of Bechuanaland (modern-day Botswana) and his marriage to Ruth Williams (Rosamund Pike) a white Englishwoman.  At a time when many British people are developing  a rose tinted picture of what the British Empire was, this film comes as a timely reminder of how poorly we behaved as a nation in the past.  The story of tolerance and understanding is very timely.a-united-kingdom

Paterson: Nothing much happens in this movie, but it all happens in a beautiful and poetic way as you would expect from director Jim Jarmusch.  This is somewhat appropriate as the film centres around an armature poet.  There isn’t enough going on for many viewers, but I loved it.  Adam Driver is always interesting and watchable, here he is also really good.paterson

Allied: Given the setting of the first half of the film, comparisons with Casablanca are understandable, the film actually has more in common with The English Patient.  It doesn’t live up to either of these two but is better than many critics will have you believe.  Brad Pitt is good, Marion Cotillard is sensational.allied

Arrival and A United Kingdom were contenders, but movie of the month is:nocturnal-animals-movie-poster

I recently heard someone suggest that title of Sully, the  Clint Eastwood movie about Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, the pilot who performed an emergency landing on the Hudson, sounds like a sequel to Monsters, Inc.  This got me thinking out other movies from the past year whose title makes them sound like they belong to very different films:sully

Nocturnal Animals – a documentary about foxes and badgers.nocturnal-animals

Spotlight – An actors life in the in the spotlight, actual and metaphorical.spotlight

Youth – A social drama about young hoody gangs.youth

Hail Caesar –  Julius Caesar biopic.spotlight

The Neon Demon – A supernatural horror.the-neon-demon

Anthropoid – Alian invasion Sci-Fi horror.anthropoid

The Girl with all the Gifts – Christmas drama about a spoilt rich girl.the-girl-with-all-the-gifts

Swiss Army Man – Biopic about the inventor of the Swiss army knife. swiss-army-man

American Honey – Drama about American Beekeepers.american-honey

Trolls – Teen drama about internet trolls.trolls

Snowden – Welsh drama set around the countries highest mountain (I know they are spelt differently).snowden

Moonlight – Horror about werewolfs.moonlight

Outstanding Support

Whilst watching Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them I rapidly came to the conclusion that Queenie (Alison Sudol) and Kowalski (Dan Fogler) are more interesting than the main characters.  This got me thinking of the supporting characters that have enhanced movies this year:queenie-alison-sudol-and-kowalski-dan-fogler

Rocky: Let’s start with the strangest, Rocky as a supporting character in a Rocky movie! Creed is a Rocky movie, but it’s also its own beast and Michael B. Jordan is excellent as Adonis Johnson/Creed and was unlucky not to receive an Oscar nomination, but Sylvester Stallone was fantastic as Rocky and truly was a supporting character.sylvester-stallone-creed

Ringer: The 5th Wave was a poor film with little to recommend it but Maika Monroe was brilliant as ever playing the most fun character in the movie.ringer-the-5th-wave-maika-monroe

Sheriff Chris Mannix: Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight is a truly ensemble movie and it is hard to call any of the characters supporting, however, in a dialogue heavy movie one of the less well known actors stands out: Walton Goggins. Anyone who has seen Justified won’t be surprised.sheriff-chris-mannix-walton-goggins

Penelope Lannier: Like many people the first I heard of Dakota Johnson was Fifty Shades of Grey, like many people I thought she was the only good thing about the film.  In A Bigger Splash not only does she stand out, but she does it against some seriously amazing actors: Tilda Swinton, Marianne Lane, Ralph Fiennes.penelope-lannier-a-bigger-splash-dakota-johnson

Howard: 10 Cloverfield Lane: is a seriously leftfield sequel.  Mary Elizabeth Winstead is fantastic in the lead but the film would have fallen apart without the brilliant John Goodman.howard-10-cloverfield-lane-john-goodman

Isabelle: In Louder Than Bombs, Isabelle Huppert is never less than sensational and has therefore set the bar pretty high for herself.  playing a dead character, we only see her in flashbacks, but she is the focus of the film and it wouldn’t work unless she is good.  The film is mesmerising and she is monumental.isabelle-huppert-louder-than-bombs

Tanya Vanderpoel: Margot Robbie‘s best moment in Whisky Tango Foxtrot is in the trailer.  To add to this she is supporting the brilliant Tina Fey in the first movie role worthy of her talents in years.  To be honest the offhand delivery of her line in the trailer is enough to give her a place on this list, but she also provides great support in to Fey’s lead.tanya-vanderpoel-margot-robbie-whisky-tango-foxtrot

St Clair Bayfield and Cosmé McMoon: If Meryl Streep gets within a mile of a movie she picks up an Oscar nomination, it is therefore hard to stand out in her presence, however, in Florence Foster Jenkins two performances stand out; Hugh Grant and Simon Helberg.st-clair-bayfield-and-cosme-mcmoon

Jane Clayton: The Legend of Tarzan: is a good old-fashioned action adventure film that was unfairly derided on release.  Alexander Skarsgård is good as John Clayton / Tarzan, Christoph Waltz and Samuel L. Jackson do a really good job playing Christoph Waltz and Samuel L. Jackson.  However, I would happily have watched a movie about Jane played by Margot Robbie in one of three standout performances this year.jane-clayton-the-legend-of-tarzan-margot-robbie

Jillian Holtzmann: Ghostbusters is a week film.  Its problems have nothing to do with the casting or the gender of the stars and has everything to do with flabby direction and a week unfunny script.  To give an actress as talented as Kristen Wiig such a poor part is a crime .  There is one good thing about the film and this comes from the one actor I had never heard of; Kate McKinnon.jillian-holtzmann-ghostbusters-kate-mckinnon

Jake: Star played by Sasha Lane is the star (pun intended) of American Honey but the standout performance comes from the supporting cast as Shia LaBeouf finally fulfils the promise of the talented young actor we saw in A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints and glimpsed in Nymphomaniac: and The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman.american-honey-shia-labeouf

Miss Peregrine: Eva Green was the only good thing about Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows, although she plays the eponymous role, she is a supporting character in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, but a memorable supporting character.MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN

Bobby Andes and Ray Marcus: Amy Adams is the focus of Nocturnal Animals, it will be a crime if she doesn’t pickup her sixth and seventh Oscar nominations for this and Arrival, but there are other standout performances that really make the film tick: Michael Shannon and Aaron Taylor-Johnson.michael-shannon-aaron-taylor-johnson-nocturnal-animals

“In a world…..” if like me you grew up in the 80’s you would have heard those words a lot.  Well maybe not as often as you remember, not that many trailers actually featured those words, but most did have a voiceover in a very particular tone.

Modern trailers have changed, and while they have largely dropped the voiceover they can still often give too much plot away, or conversely twist things enough to make you want to see film.  Here are three examples of 2016 trailers that represent: The Good, a great trailer that makes me want to see the film; The Bad, a terrible trailer that gives the plot away makes the film look unfunny and stopped me going to see the film; and finally the Misleading a great trailer that the film couldn’t live up to:

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

“This is a rebellion isn’t it? I rebel!” Both the official teaser trailer and the shorter #1 begin with these lines and you immediately know two things: one, everything is going to be okay, there was no need to worry about Star Wars straying back to the dark side of the dreaded prequel, and two, Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones)  is going to be a great character.  Just like the longer trailers that follow it shows just enough plot to get you excited without giving much away that we don’t already know.  A master class in trailer making.

Keeping Up with the Joneses

One of the worst trailers I have ever seen on two counts.  As a comedy it has become the norm to put all the pest jokes in the trailer, even re-edit them to make them funnier.  This trailer really lacks laughs.  More importantly the film appears to have a first act based on misunderstandings that are cleared up in a twist/reveal that is shown in the trailer.

Suicide Squad

The so called Blitz Trailer (as it features the song The Ballroom Blitz by The Sweet) is misleading but none the less brilliant.  Like Keeping Up with the Joneses it shows most of the plot, but it is so mixed up you don’t realise that until you have seen the film.  It also focuses heavily on the film’s best character Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) giving her a few killer lines (including one that doesn’t make the final cut of the film).  This is all topped off by two perfect song choices.  The film is okay.  the trailer is great. This probably helped it gross nearly as much as the franchises tent-pole; Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.


The Expanse

Anyone who read my article a couple of weeks ago will know that I recently signed up with Netflix. I still believe that the cinema is the best place to watch a film, the larger the screen the better.  For this reason I still visit the cinema an average of twice a week.  It will therefore come as no surprise that I watch more TV than movies on Netfix.  I have mainly been catching up on shows that I have been keen to see for some time but not gotten around to, however, I have just watched The Expanse based on the robotic recommendation of Netflix.the-expanse

For those who haven’t heard of it (I hadn’t a week ago), the Expanse is scf-fi crime drama / space opera.  Based on the series of books by James S. A. Corey ( a pen name for collaborators Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck) set in a future where has spread out and colonized other planets.  The United Nations controls earth, Mars has its own military government.  Both planets depend on the resources of The Belt, the outer planets and asteroids whose inhabitants are treated like second class citizens.  The largest planet is Ceres (a real place, it is a dwarf planet in the orbit of Neptune located in the asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.  It is named after the Roman goddess of agriculture).  In the belt air and water are in short supply and are therefore a precious commodity.  The three factions are on the brink of war.  As a viewer we follow three main characters who stumble across a conspiracy and can’t let go:

Chrisjen Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo): UN Assistant Undersecretary of Executive Administration who becomes personally involved in events.chrisjen-avasarala-shohreh-aghdashloo

Joe Miller (Thomas Jane): an archetypal heavy drinking police detective on Ceres who is given an assignment that he isn’t supposed to solve.joe-miller-thomas-jane

Jim Holden (Steven Strait): an officer on an ice haulage ship who fall down a rabbit-hole that begins when he answers a distress call.

The opening credits have elements of The Man in the High Castle and Game of Thrones lending an air of familiarity.  The show itself is well constructed with great use of time.  Rather than relying on simple flashbacks within scenes the narrative moves around within its timeline with the same dexterity as it does within its universe.  This is achieved with a mixture of clearly dated and ambiguous variations that work well to keep the drama tense.  The story is similarly well constructed keeping an air of uncertainty and excitement.  Many of them main characters are well rounded and developed with believable histories, they are however, largely clichéd and unoriginal.  The acting is solid and natural without any wooden or over the top performances, however, on the other hand it lacks any of the standout performances that we can expect on modern TV shows.  It clearly doesn’t have the budget of a cinema movie or top TV show but the effects really aren’t bad and largely, it actually looks good.  The costumes are a little hit and miss with the space set elements using an effective mix of military uniforms and industrial overalls.  The planet based characters fall into most of the same clichés of other similar shows.   The biggest visual problem though, is Thomas Jane’s haircut.  Both too flamboyant and high maintenance for the deadbeat character he plays, but more significantly, it looks stupid.  The vehicles and planets have a sense of believably and reality as we have seen in Battlestar Galactica and Firefly.  It also shares a dirty industrial look of these shows.the-expanse-florence-faivre

It isn’t a classic show within the genre that we will be seeing alongside Battlestar Galactica and Game of Thrones on best of lists, but it does have both a charm and quality making it worth a recommendation.  I am looking forward to season two. 

Everybody knows that the dice are loaded

Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed

Everybody knows the war is over

Everybody knows the good guys lost

Everybody knows the fight was fixed

The poor stay poor, the rich get rich

That’s how it goes

Everybody knows

leonard-cohenWhen I was around 15 or 16 years old I rented the Christian Slater/Samantha Mathis movie Pump Up the Volume.  A couple of years later I recorded it when it was shown on TV (anyone under the age of 35 will have no idea of the reason or significance of this!), in the five or six years that followed it was watched on hard rotation with first, school and then university friends along with some similarly themed movies:  Fandango, the breakfast club, Dazed and Confused, Heathers, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, The Sure Thing.  As time went on the film that once meant a lot to me became less significant, until, I don’t think I have seen it for over fifteen years.  However, it did give me one lasting thing, a love of the music of Leonard Cohen.  The film heavily features the song Everybody Knows.  I went out with the intention of purchasing the soundtrack but found that for rights reasons (as I discovered many years later) a cover version that was used over the credits was used on the soundtrack instead of the original that was so important in the film.  Instead I purchased the CD of I’m Your Man, the Leonard Cohen album that features the song.  And thus begun a love of Leonard Cohen’s music.

A great artist who will be missed despite the amazing musical legacy he leaves us.