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By midlandsmovies, Feb 23 2018 11:24PM

All The Money in The World (2018) Dir. Ridley Scott

Ridley Scott’s latest feature film All the Money in The World had a difficult birth. Mere months before its premiere, Kevin Spacey one of the film’s stars, had all his scenes cut and his part quickly recast in response to recent sexual assault allegations.

Scott found a replacement in Christopher Plummer who at 88 years old did not need the extensive make up to portray his character Jean Paul Getty. Reshoots were expensive and infamously urgent however due to the experience and professionalism of both Scott and Plummer the film benefits from such events.

All the Money in The World centres on the abduction of billionaire Jean Paul Getty’s Grandson, John Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer). Scott focuses the story on Getty III’s Mother Gail (Michelle Williams) as she desperately tries to locate her kidnapped son, travelling across the world, doing whatever she can to get him back.

The ransom is simple, pay his abductors $17 million dollars and Jean Paul III will be released unharmed. Failure to do so will result in his torture and eventual death.

In 1973 Jean Paul Getty (Christopher Plummer) was not only the richest man on the planet, he was the richest man who ever lived. Regardless of Gail’s status as a former Daughter-in-Law, Getty III is still a biological grandson, and a cherished one at that. However, she is surprised when Getty peacefully announces he would not be paying a single dollar towards the ransom as he has “no money to spare” or that it would set a dangerous precedent for chancers to adduct his other grandchildren. He does however enlist the help of former CIA operative Fletcher Chase (Mark Wahlberg) to retrieve his grandson safely, without any cost.

For a film to depict an infamous story it has to have a level of mystery or intrigue still intact so as to keep the audience interested. Scott fortunately exercises this by showing the audience how far Getty would go to save every penny, even installing a payphone inside his mansion so guests cannot make use of a free telephone call. Whilst the film does have thrilling moments, it is the expose on Jean Paul Getty’s frugal personality that takes centre stage for me.

At 80 years old, Ridley Scott is still proving he is one of the best directors of all time. With a manic reshooting schedule most filmmakers would crumble at the slightest hint, he not only completed the film on time but he also managed to conjure one of my favourite acting performances of all time in Plummer’s portrayal of Getty. Plummer being 88 years old himself and managing to prepare the character in time and excelling at it is nothing short of extraordinary. Michelle Williams is also on fine form as she disappears into her character however Mark Wahlberg’s performance is overshadowed and his character forgotten quickly in comparison.

In contrast to his previous work All the Money in The World can seem like a tame effort from Scott. The story is nothing particularly ground-breaking and whilst entertaining it does carry the same tropes and clichés most kidnapper/hostage films possess. Ultimately I enjoyed All the Money in The World, through stellar directing by Ridley Scott and acting from Christopher Plummer, this film had me shaking my head in disbelief at how wealthy yet morally bankrupt people can be.


Guy Russell

Twitter @BudGuyer

By midlandsmovies, Jun 30 2017 09:32AM

Baby Driver (2017) DIr. Edgar Wright

A coerced getaway driver finds himself caught up in a heist that is doomed to fail.

For a while, Baby (Ansel Elgort) has been the getaway driver of choice for Doc (Kevin Spacey), who considers him a lucky charm. Baby has undertaken a series of jobs which have all been successful, with little interference from the law. However, he didn’t get into that line of work by choice, and with his debts almost paid off, it’s not long before Baby will be a free man.

Unfortunately though, the true nature of the contract he entered into with Doc soon becomes clear when Baby is called out of retirement, and the life of his new-found love, Debora (Lily James), is threatened. With this at stake, Baby agrees to take on a heist with Buddy (Jon Hamm), Darling (Eiza González) and Bats (Jamie Foxx), and it is set to be the biggest job ever pulled off, meaning the risks are higher than ever before too.

Set to be possibly THE biggest blockbuster of the summer, if not this year, is Edgar Wright’s latest project, Baby Driver. There has been a lot of buzz surrounding this film, with the hype reaching it’s peak this week. All I can say is this film is a real crowd pleaser - there is something for everyone dotted throughout the action, the comedy and the teensy-weensy bit of romance, so I cannot recommend it enough. However, I must say that this conclusion was only reached based largely upon the second half of the film purely because that was the part of the film I was fully tuned into due to an incident that occurred at the start of the film (but we won’t go into that because this is a review of the film, not of my experience at the cinema). All I’ll say is if you don’t feel I’m doing the film complete justice with this review, please forgive me.

The mix of characters in the film is brilliant. There's a number of different personalities that make every scene in the film enjoyable to watch. I have to be honest and say that I didn’t find Baby to be the most exciting character in the film, but I found that in the scenes where he really came alive, Ansel Elgort nailed the performance. Kevin Spacey is Kevin Spacey, so you know his character is going to be wonderful to watch anyway, and he fully delivered as Doc, who I likened to Joe Cabot in Reservoir Dogs with the way he planned the jobs and kept everyone in check.

Jamie Foxx also did as was expected of him as Bats, who waded in with a considerable amount of ego. Surprisingly enough, I also was quite a fan of Lily James’ character, who clearly was prepared to do anything for Baby. My favourite character has to be Buddy though, who was brought to us by the delightful Jon Hamm. People may or may not know by now, but I love a good villain, and he ended up being just that.

There are some huge chase scenes to be found throughout Baby Driver (as you’d perhaps hope), and I know for a fact that there was definitely one that lasted for the best part of five minutes where I sat forward in my chair, mouth wide open, holding my breath with my eyes glued to the screen. It was fantastic! That, of course, wasn’t the only chase in the film, but for me it was the most memorable, and most certainly the one that got the adrenaline flowing.

Edgar Wright has done a very good job with this film. As I said to start with, this will suit the broadest of audiences because it is such a mixed bag. Personally, I think the highlights were the perfectly choreographed chase scenes (yep, those again) and the more comedic moments that also frequented the film. It was genuinely very funny in a number of places in a way that I think would survive multiple watches. Such a mixture kept the film feeling fresh for the entirety of it’s duration, so watching it didn't feel like a huge endeavour, and the time flew by.

All in all, I can only side with those people who are tipping this to be one of the films of the year. Baby Driver proved to be a highly entertaining ride, even after the situation that occurred at the beginning which we shall not speak of. I may have to have a second viewing of the film in order to get the full experience and in order to provide you with a review that will give a truer reflection of what I thought. In the meantime, all I can say is you should probably seriously consider seeing Baby Driver at some point before it leaves cinemas, although I think it’ll get a good run given the majorly positive response it has received.


Kira Comerford

Twitter: @FilmAndTV101

By midlandsmovies, Aug 5 2016 11:50AM

Elvis & Nixon (2016) Dir. Liza Johnson

This film from director Liza Johnson (Return and Hateship, Loveship) is based upon the infamous Elvis and Nixon photo from 1970 (click here) which showed the notorious US President at the time shaking hands with the equally well known music legend in the Oval Office.

The movie states at the beginning that no recording was made of the meeting between two of the most famous people on the planet in the White House so combines fact with a splash of fiction. What is known is the surroundings before and after as Elvis heads from Graceland to L.A. then back to Washington DC in his attempts to become an undercover FBI agent. And yes, there’s plenty of real evidence to support this did indeed actually happen.

What is speculated is presented as a ‘what-if’ scenario based upon the infamous meeting where Tricky Dicky and The King chat back and forth about their respective requirements. The film suggests Nixon wanted to win over the public by associating himself with a popular celebrity whilst Presley has a goal to get an actual Governmental badge to pursue his plans of being a spy.

Strangely, in a week where I’ve re-watched Frost/Nixon, X-Men: DOFP & Watchmen (all who have their own takes on the fallen President), this film contains a stunning impersonation delivered by Kevin Spacey who plays the slimy and sleazy Nixon with panache. And thankfully, my initial reservations about Michael Shannon as Elvis wore off as he becomes more believable as the film goes along, playing him with a kind of arrogant innocence.

Nixon’s skulduggery plays on Elvis’ naivety (and increasing eccentricity) as the singer aspires to become a federal agent and the film gives a solid if underwritten role to Alex Pettyfer as Elvis’ aide, Jerry Schilling.

Pettyfer is part of a small sub-plot about Elvis’ inner circle of “friends” and the cast is rounded out by Johnny Knoxville as another part of the “Memphis Mafia” and Colin Hanks and Evan Peters (Quicksilver in X-Men) who play two of Nixon’s White House lackeys.

The film heightens reality as government security (as well as the general public) are shown to be in awe at Elvis’ presence before being quickly replaced with an inability to comprehend his requests to meet the President and J Edgar Hoover.

The soundtrack is a cool mix of bluesy rock from the period – wisely it avoids any inclusion of Elvis songs – and the quick editing ensures a fast pace as we whip back and forth across the US before slowing down for their private chat at the film’s conclusion.

Both performances are spot-on and I enjoyed the tone of the film as it focused on a very strange engagement from the past. Paranoid Presley is presented as an outlandish loner detached from reality, with Spacey’s Nixon is a parallel characterisation with a huge sense of self-importance. It is their interaction which is the crux of the film and although it takes a little while to get there, it is well worth sticking with given the fantastic efforts by two superb and engaging actors.


Midlands Movies Mike

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