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Bond girl Naomie Harris brings her acting pedigree with a stellar performance as the lead in Black and Blue, one of the absolutely most thrilling cop films in recent times. When rookie cop Alicia West (Naomie) returns to her old neighbourhood after 10 years things have taken a turn for the worse. Events spiral when she witnesses police corruption and has to run from fellow officers trying to kill her in a bid to erase the evidence she has. This chase film is very potent in its real depiction of issues disadvantaged neighbourhoods face, police brutality, neglect, systemic corruption in the police force and how it is a lonely place to make a difference. But at least it’s something we should all strive for. Director Deon Taylor expertly pulls everything together in this sit on the edge of your seat offering. I looked around and I wasn’t the only one! Tyrese Gibson is solid as the reluctant hero with appearances from Mike Colter (Luke Cage) as a caring ganglord. Not to be missed 5 out of 5.
It’s a rare thing to get a spy film without explosions, shootings, murder, car chases etc that still manages to keep you at the very edge of your seat and induces the feeling of a repeat watch. Official Secrets is the true story about a government staff whistleblower centring around the US and UK governments lie to go to war on Iraq. Enter real life heroine Katherine Gunn played by Keira Knightly in one of her best performances(deserving of nominations). Katherine Gunn is yet another example of someone who put everything in her life at risk to make that most difficult of choices. Doing the right thing. Despite the catastrophic risks to her career, marriage, life and future. Not the banal misinformed self righteous selfish rantings from people who don’t want to/or can’t really make a difference we currently see daily on social media. The film is tense and writer/director Gavin Hood excels in wonderfully bringing this story to life based on the novel The Spy who tried to Stop the War. The film boasts a fine British stellar cast with Ralph Fiennes giving his usual unequivocally solid performance this time as Katherine’s lawyer. Not to be missed. 5 out of 5.
I’ll go one better than the film poster tagline and say this is the best feel good movie of the century. Yes I know we are only 19 years in but hey. At a time in our history when social media has become an avenue to propagate hate and fear using political views, race, selective amnesia on what our actions/words mean and cause, using names and words like Hitler, racist etc so freely this film reminds us of what it is to be human. When Tyler, played beautifully by Shia LaBeouf, who is on the run feels lumbered with Zak a Down syndrome teenager escaping a future he doesn’t want the unexpected happens. Humanity is at the very core of this perfectly crafted story of what happens when we stop thinking of ourselves and truly think of others. This is the first time I’ve seen an adult punch a child and wasn’t horrified. The unlikely pairing of Zak, played wonderfully by Zach Gottsagen who also has Down’s syndrome in real life, takes on a journey leading to encounters with others that show the beauty of the human spirit. And some of its ugliness too. Great script, direction, production and acting. A must watch. 5 out of 5.
British director Ken Loach offers up his new film I, Daniel Blake which is a masterclass of storytelling on life in poverty in a grim Newcastle setting. But don't let that put you off. The film does not feel sorry for itself nor pretentiously tries to tug at your heartstrings. It serves up a realistic endearing story of the platonic friendship of Daniel Blake and Katie, a single Londoner mother of two children from two different fathers. The chance meeting of the two in an unemployment centre focuses on how difficult and flawed the social security benefits system is along with the callous patronising jobsworths that work in them. People do laugh even when times are hard and from the very start of this film you'll be in stitches. The story of the human condition resonates clearly and it's hard not to love alongside strong performances from the entire cast. The film won the Palme D'or award at this years Cannes and rightly so. Not sure about the Oscars but this most certainly has thrown down the gauntlet as a strong contender for Best British film at the BAFTA's. My rating: 5 out of 5. Solid.