‘Ford V Ferrari’ (or ‘Le Mans ’66’ as it’s called here in the UK) and follows American car designer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale) battle corporate interference, the laws of physics and their own personal lives to build a race car for Ford and challenge Ferrari at the 24 hour race in Le Mans in 1966.
This was one of my most anticipated films for the rest of the year, it has an excellent cast and director James Mangold has reliable track record. When it comes to the actual premise of the film and its main focus I have a very limited knowledge of cars (outside of watching ‘Top Gear’ and ‘The Grand Tour’…) and I knew of the event itself just not the specific details. However that doesn’t matter here. The film’s script is very well written and gives the viewer all the information they need to become invested within the characters and plot and it doesn’t go overboard on the car and mechanic terminology, yet also provides enough knowledge on the subject to be engaging and interesting for the viewer to learn. The film has a long run time of just over 2 hours 30 minutes and doesn’t feel like it, there’s a few pacing issues and some scenes could possibly have been a bit shorter, but nothing that seriously hinders the movie.
The characters are also well written and the performances are brilliant all round. Damon plays Carroll Shelby, after a car accident he has had to have been sidelined from racing and now manages his own company and race team, this is a character with a lot of dimensions, he wants to really remain to true to the sport and working with cars, but also is tempted and drawn in by the commercial and corporation money driven and successful side of the business as well, and their are some great scenes with him trying to work it out on both sides and deciding what is the best thing to do. Christian Bale once again completely invests himself in the role of Ken Miles, once again losing weight (which is still impressive and crazy to see considering the amount he gained for his role in ‘Vice’ last year) and changes his accent. Miles is one of the most likeable characters I’ve see on screen this year and once again Bale adds another great character to his filmography, his optimism and dedication to the sport and cars is infectious. He and Damon have brilliant chemistry and their friendship feels very genuine and the best this year alongside Di Caprio & Pitt in ‘Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood’. Even the main supporting cast and characters are interesting and memorable, Miles’ family have good chemistry together and there are some very impactful emotional moments throughout. Jon Bernthal and Josh Lucas are good as the two higher ups at Ford. Bernthal plays the more morally centred of the two and Lucas is the cynical and all money focused of the two. Tracy Letts is brilliant as Henry Ford II, he has a commanding and serious screen presence yet also provides possibly the film’s funniest moment.
Visually and technically the film is excellent. I highly recommend seeing this on the big screen just for the race sequences alone, they are phenomenal, especially the final Le Mans sequence, it’s really tense edge of your seat stuff, you feel every impact of the car crashes, the sense of speed is excellently brought to the forefront with brilliant cinematography and editing and impressive practical effects and stunt work blended with CGI (occasionally the CGI is slightly obvious but very rarely). Also the sound design is perfect, when these racing scenes occur the roar of the engines and screeching of brakes and tires is staggering and extremely effective. Seeing this on the IMAX screen will be an absolute blast for these sections I guarantee you. The film’s soundtrack features some fitting classic rock tunes which work really well with the racing scenes.
‘Ford V Ferrari/Le Mans ’66’ is an excellent and interesting biography movie featuring some brilliant performances, thrilling race sequences and engaging and investing dramatic and emotional moments. Definitely in my top 10 of this year. Highly recommended.
“I heard you paint houses?”
It’s finally here. A film that Scorsese has been developing since 2004, with constant setbacks due to other projects, unavailable actors and lack of interest to finance the film from various studios. However with the streaming behemoth Netflix allowing Scorsese free reign and budget over the project ‘The Irishman’ has released in cinemas (for a limited time and limited locations) before its released on Netflix at the end of the month. ‘The Irishman’ chronicles the post-war life of truck driver Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro) who gets involved with Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci) and his crime family. As Sheeran climbs the ranks to become a top hit man, he also goes to work for Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino), a powerful Teamster with ties to organised crime.
This film is a true epic, in its scale and variety of locations, to its time-spanning plot progression and its legendary three leads actors and director. The film plays out in a non-linear structure with an elderly De Niro being our narrator throughout, giving us information and context about various characters and events so that we are never lost in the proceedings. With a mammoth run time of 3 hours 30 minutes the film doesn’t leave anything out, it takes its time to really spend time with the characters and the various situations. It really draws you into this world and their lives, which make it consistently engaging regardless of what’s going on in the scene (which can involve anything from De Niro & Pesci) eating cereal and bowling with their families to bloody executions and car bombs).
It’s nothing short of incredible how well the film transitions from scene to scene, with the majority of these completely changing time period and location and that the coherence of the plot stays intact. Scorsese’s direction is (as expected) meticulously crafted, from the seamless opening one take camera movement, to the slow motion intense closeups and brutally swift nastiness of the various mob hits. The variety of editing and combination with the voice over works together perfectly e.g. when Frank is deciding and telling us which gun is best for a public hit. and when necessary there will be barely any cuts letting us linger on a character really digesting their emotion and taking in what has happened to them on screen or what will happen. The sound design for the gun shots is stabbing and deafening, with some gloriously bloody practical effect results and a memorable soundtrack to accompany several scenes throughout the film.
Probably the main aspect when it comes to the visuals of the film that was what people were really intrigued with witnessing is the de-ageing technology utilised on the cast. It is excellently implemented and only very rarely is noticeable and clearly where the budget went as at times it looks like they brought them back from the past and towards the latter half of the film fast forwarded to the future with some very realistic prosthetic’s and makeup. All of this was worth it with a cast ensemble for the ages. De Niro carries the bulk of the film as out narrator and main character. Seeing him rise through the ranks of the mob, whilst also trying to raise and support a family and dealing within the world of politics makes his character arc fascinating. There is some real emotional moments here as well, especially when it comes to the family of the character and De Niro really delivers here, whilst also bringing out that Taxi Driver, Goodfellas and Casino menace and intimidation. I still find it hard to believe that this is Pacino’s first collaboration with Scorsese, but what a first collaboration performance it is. Pacino steals basically every scene as Jimmy Hoffa, giving one of the most charismatic performances I’ve seen this year, with a razor sharp sense of humour and line delivery, to his obsession with ice cream and lateness and his relentless dedication to his cause Hoffa is one of the most interesting and memorable characters in Scorsese’s filmography and one of Pacino’s best performances. Also seeing Joe Pesci return to the screen after being retired is a treat for fans of his earlier work with Scorsese and just for any cinephile in general. Seeing him show that threatening spark of his Goodfellas days with a much more emotional edge and investment to the story. Here at times he gives a more quiet and subtle performance yet is always commanding with his screen presence and gives an aura of respect and intimidation. I mention ‘Goodfellas’ (because how can you not?) however this really isn’t like it at all in terms of its plot and characters, sure there are mob hits and violence, but only occasionally, no this is much more of a character study and life story than full blown gangster crime thriller. The supporting cast featuring, Stephen Graham, Jesse Plemons, Anna Paquin and many more, are also all interesting and get enough screen time to justify their presence and become interesting and memorable to the viewer.
‘The Irishman’ is nothing short of a masterpiece when it comes to its technical aspects, scope and scale, featuring some of the best performances of these actors already extremely impressive and lengthy careers and a film that you can see the investment and passion its director had when making it. Thrilling, sad, surprisingly and intentionally very funny at times, brutal and thoroughly engaging in its world building and characters. ‘The Irishman’ deserves to be seen on the big screen and I implore you to do so if you can, it really shouldn’t be just watched on a mobile phone like it soon will be. Go and support it, I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.
It’s been 10 years since the release of the first ‘Zombieland’ in 2009.
To say the zombie genre has decomposed is an understatement. We’ve had countless movies, video games, comic books and TV series featuring the undead in the last decade and their popularity has reached extreme highs and lows within pop culture properties and hobbies. However now we have the sequel to easily one of the unique films within genre to try and reanimate the sub-genre again. Does it? The answer to that is a gore filled yes.
‘Zombieland: Double Tap’ follows Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Wichita (Emma Stone) & Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) move to the American heartland as they face evolved zombies, meet new survivors and the issues of a makeshift family.
My main concern for this film would be the cast chemistry not being the same 10 years later. Considering really a film like this is probably above the cast’s talents considering Emma Stone is now and Oscar winner and Eisenberg and Harrelson both with nominations. Luckily as soon as the film starts you know everything is exactly as it was 10 years ago, this group are still a blast to hang out with, bickering, insults and genuinely great and not cheesy believable romantic and dramatic moments between them. Eisenberg is still our reliable narrator, Harrelson is still filled with gun-infatuated insanity, Stone is clearly having a blast being cunning, beautiful and badass and Breslin is great as the rebellious young adult Little Rock. The new characters also are welcome. I really thought typical ‘dumb blonde’ stereotype Madison (Zoey Deutch) would be annoying, however she is a riot, Deutch’s over the top accent and well timed delivery and mannerisms are great and the writers know how to utilise her character correctly. Rosario Dawson is awesome as Nevada, she has really cool moments and lines and I wish she was in the film more. The only real weaker characters are the two ‘doppelgänger’ characters of Columbus & Tallahassee who don’t really add anything to the story or have much to do (even though they are still funny) and Berkeley who Little Rock runs off with, literally has no personality aside from ‘hippie/stoner’, at one point I did at genuinely forget about that subplot because of how much fun it was watching the other characters.
All of these characters working together and bouncing their lines and off one another works very well and means their are far more hits than misses when it comes to the jokes and comedic moments. There are couple of weaker jokes e.g. an extended Uber joke and some repetitive insults however the majority land just right. There are some great callbacks to the first movie: more additions to Columbus’ rules and ‘Zombie Kill Of The Week’ now being ‘Zombie Kill Of The Year’ and you also really need to stay for post-credit sequence, which I wasn’t expecting at all, it is completely ridiculous but very funny.
Action-wise the film doesn’t disappoint either. The film once again opens with brutal slow-mo slaughter accompanied with Metallica. There are several creative and tense sequences with the inclusion of the new ‘T-800’ (Terminator) zombies and it’s cool to see how much more experienced the gang has become when it comes to zombie slaying. My favourite scene has to be a brilliantly choreographed brutal yet slapstick one-take house fight. Director Ruben Fleischer returns and clearly wanted to make the best sequel possible, there is a clear difference from the direction and action here compared to his last film ‘Venom’ from last year, possible interference from Sony could’ve been to do with the former but clearly Fleischer’s strength and creativity is with ‘Double Tap’. The film is slightly rushed at times throughout the 99 minute run time and some time jumps aren’t really explained. However the road trip structure and fast paced humour and action work very well for the film’s length.
‘Zombieland: Double Tap’ is exactly what I wanted from this sequel. A shotgun blast to the face of foul mouthed humour, a cast of characters that you’d genuinely want to hang out with if a zombie apocalypse ever occurred and plenty of zombie killing chaos. As the man says: ‘It’s time to nut up or shut up!.”