An Expansion of the famous #BigRonFilmReviews twitter hashtag - because 140 characters is seldom enough.
My Hyperbole is my own, later to be contradicted and refuted.

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The Company You Keep (2012)
Robert Redford is a bereaved, successful Laywer and single Parent. In his youth he was a key member of a Vietnam War Opposition (Terrorist) Group…. unfortunately these things have a way of catching up with you….
This is a thoughtful chase movie in which the characters slowly evolve on all sides along with the plot. This takes a tough stance on Vietnam and Phoney wars and it’s hard not to sympathise with the group, which means you’re a) sympathising with terrorists and b) taking an anti government stance on i.e Iraq or Afghanistan without perhaps realising it… (woah way too much Politics there!)
Redford proves an extremely resourceful fugitive and the aged former action group remain covert and hyper organised, it’s much cleverer than your average spy movie. There is a little twist in here that in retrospect makes perfect sense.
Performance wise Shia LeBoeuf is very impressive as the upstart reporter whilst Redford oozes class and we have excellent support from an all-star cast.
I found this interesting, subtle and compelling. A damn fine watch.
“Yeah we all died. Some of us just came back”
“ No. I… I barely have furniture”
“I’m not offended, you’re pretty much exactly what I expected.”
"I had it wrong Ray. He’s dead".
"Thank you for listening".
"I think he knows how to run which means he has an advantage".
The Purge: Anarchy (2014)
This movie picks up the one idea from the first one and runs with it. However where the first one was set around a wealthy Ethan Hawke’s family home this film follows an uneasy alliance cut loose in the poorer part of town on Purgenight…. and they’re having a very shitty night.
I thought the first one was ok (although my review suggests I liked it less at the time) and I think I enjoyed this one more. It’s kind of like an adult Hunger Games or a Running Man with a little bit of Friday the 13th thrown in for good measure.
I like humans committing atrocities in my horror movies, not ghosts, ghouls or monsters and this movie has a dark and sinister edge that I find healthily alluring.
They’ve expanded the story hinting at a political story arc for another sequel in this cruel world. Probably with Omar Chalky White, a militant Martin Luther King type with ambitions to overthrow the government. If that is the way it goes there is probably mileage in it.
Frank Grillo is rather good as the tragic hero with a past, reluctantly keeping his new friends alive and being a real badass along the way. His revenge arc is decent, if predictable and if this franchise does get a third movie I hope he comes back for it.
Dark and violent with some good action and the odd surprise.
"Only when their blood is spilled will we see change".
"We don’t save lives. Tonight we take lives. We can’t have any interference. We can’t have heroes."
"At the siren all crime, including murder will be legal for twelve hours".
"People like us, we don’t survive tonight!"
"Just remember all the good the Purge does".

The Purge (2013)
Battle Royale, meets Straw Dogs and maybe V for Vendetta in this futuristic game of extreme survival of the fittest - or indeed richest.
In the future unemployment and crime rates are low due to an annual 12 hour purge of societies have nots. Ethan Hawke and family usually drop their armoured barriers and ride out the storm but it all goes south when Hawke’s Good Samaritan son lets a stranger into the house.
It’s a realistic horror, i mean this could happen, littered with jump scares that poses a few moral questions about people that do and don’t contribute to society (but BRFR tries not to get into politics or religion).
Nothing particularly new, the intended twists were not surprising and I certainly tired of the person about to kill getting killed themselves which must have happened five times or more.
"Let us purge"
“Decriminalised Murder. An outlet for American Rage.”
Zodiac (2007)
Great, just great. My first rewatch since an impressive 2007 theatre viewing, I found it perfectly enjoyable time it’s blown me away. My Fincher order was previously Seven/Fight Club (interchangeable), Social Network, Panic Room, Zodiac and finally Button - Zodiac is now right in that top end mix.
This is the true story of the Zodiac Killer and the men that tried to catch him. It’s a basic Police procedural and barring some fairly haunting cold blooded murders it’s actually fairly quiet, it’s understated and authentic feeling. Things move slowly and barely progress at all, eons of time passes, huge world events pass by whilst the investigation continues. That sounds like a criticism but it’s a real compliment, the tension and frustration jumps out at you.
Much like the Yorkshire Ripper case in England this just wouldn’t happen nowadays, the lack of joined up thinking between the different police departments the inability to share case files and like quickly are very much problems of the time.
I remember the ending leaving me flat in the cinema but now appreciate that’s probably the point (clever!) and found the scene in the hardware store much more fulfilling second time around.
This is a hell of a movie and I will not be leaving it seven years between watches again.
"Before I kill you, I’m going to throw your baby out the window"
"Suspect’s negro male adult, who also happens to be a stocky, crew cut caucasian"
"Yeah, I cover crime in Vallejo"
"I am not the Zodiac. And if I were, I certainly wouldn’t tell you."

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)

Dances with Wolves only rather than Indians we have awesome looking mo-cap monkey’s with machine guns + a really cute baby one! I’m in.

Review here

National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983)
After buying a dodgy motor from Jim’s Dad (American Pie) the Griswolds head off on a disastrous Road Trip from Chicago to California…
For Harold Ramis vehicle this isn’t very good. I’ve seen European Vacation many times and always enjoyed it and despite having the odd moment this is not in the same league.
This is a series of pratfalls, cheap gags and Chevy doing his thing. They end up in the wrong neighbourhood and Chevy tries some sleep driving. Things do brighten up a little when we meet Randy Quaid and his inbred family but it’s not fantastic. The tag along Aunt is pretty painful and the Christie Brinkley red Ferrari stuff is just pointless.
I was pretty bored to be honest, Harold Ramis has far better works - seek them out instead.
"Find a bush Audrey!"
"Hey fuck your Mama!"
"Are you happy now Clark? She’s deaf!"
"What an asshole!"

Get him to the Greek (2010)
Aldous Snow is off the wagon in a big way and it’s up to affable nitwit Jonah Hill from his record label to Get him to the Greek for a revival concert.
It’s a road-trip-buddy-comedy with controversial gags about Africa, war, religion, race, drugs, Michael Jackson and sex with a couple of funny guys, some decent cameo’s and a pretty decent performance from Puff Daddy.
This is excellently madcap, fun and games with Heroin and pastiche pimadonna rockstars with some impressive partying and Jeffreys. Not entirely sure what the message is, something along the lines of ‘Rockstars are people too’ and it struggles a little for an ending but it’s damn good fun.
I love the meta stuff, with Russell Brand having once been a bit like Aldous Snow and I love Russell Brand so i’m probably biased but I dig this movie and it stands up on rewatch.
"You can not outrun me. I am black!".
"The Nazi’s had doctors Daphne".
"I’ve got six fuckin’ kids! Do you know how many Air Jordans six black kids wear?"
"Nothing you say makes any sense, I understand that now, you’re just a fucking junkie and you’re smart so you make your insanity sound, good but its bullshit."
Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)
Jason Siegel has just been ditched by long term girlfriend Kristen Bell (no offence but rightly so, she’s smoking and Jason Siegel is… quite funny). To get over his woes he heads off to Hawaii where…. quelle surprise Kristen Bell is on holiday with new squeeze Russell Brand… playing Russell Brand if he were a rock star.
Despite the basicness of this rom com i’m a huge fan of it, it’s just a vehicle for characters I like to do their thing and make me giggle. The humour is quite awkward and occasionally understated and it’s right up my alley.
I dig Russell Brand, I like his pontificating pseudo stupid yet really hyper intelligent schtick, he’s good here and rightly got his own spin off in get him to the Greek but it’s Jonah Hill and Paul Rudd that kill me, they just rock up, drop some funnies and vanish again for 20 minutes.
Awesome movie.
“When life gives you lemons, just say ‘Fuck the lemons,’ and bail”.
“It means Chuck”
“Too slow. Do less”
“I was gonna listen to that, but then, um, I just carried on living my life.”
“I just went from six to midnight.”
“Oh, I’m Aldous Snow, bullshit, bullshit, bullshit…”


Starred Up                 Trailer


Jack O’Connell is probably about to blow up. He’s the star of Angelina Jolie’s prestige picture, Unbroken, to be released on X-Mas and also stars in another heavy War Drama, '71, to be released next year. 

Before you see those, try and chase down Starred Up, which gets an August Limited US release. It’s rough and he’s fantastic. 

Starred Up is also friend of the show Big Ron's favorite film of 2014's First Half. It opened this Spring in the UK. 

Joe (2014)
I struggle to pigeonhole or even truly surmise movies like these. I guess its a Southern Gothic antihero character study of Cage’s Joe but it’s very close to a dual lead with Tye Sheridan’s Gary an equally interesting draw.
This is one of those harsh times in the south movies, hard people fighting to get by. We’re in the wheelhouse of Jeff Nichols’s Mud, or maybe Winter’s Bone. It comes from a bleak, grimy and authentic place. People live scuzzy violence centric lives, the Police only seem to show up when you drink drive, if you’re being shot at or murdered for a bottle of booze you’re in schtuck.
Despite all the doom and gloom of this movie there is levity, occasional humour and a feel good pay off of sorts. Cage’s Joe is a drink driving tough guy with a good heart, the Father-Son relationship that builds between Sheridan and himself is actually quite sweet and you can’t but smile at him calling a dog ‘A asshole!’
There’s some great characters in here. This guy Gary Poulter was a homeless guy, an alcoholic that was actually found dead before the movie was ever released. He gives the kind of haggard performance you could only get from a real life deadbeat, he was violent, abrasive and could barely speak but I loved it when he was on screen.
Ty Sheridan is superb, there’s a scene on a bridge that just blew me away, great performance from this guy, he’s going to go a long way.
It’s a return to form from Cage and I really enjoyed it.
"Weapons tend to make men do violent things".
"I’m talking to you Mister don’t you respect my family"
"I pay a days pay for a days work".
"We’re killing trees"
"Your dog is a asshole!"
Gran Torino (2008)
Clint Eastwood playing Clint Eastwood as an old man. Cantankerous, difficult, stubborn, belligerent and more than a little bit racist. His prize possession is his eponymous 70s Ford Gran Torino. When a young Korean neighbour steals his Gran Torino for shits and giggles Clint is drawn out of his solitude into the world around him.
This is Father-Son meets fish out of water type stuff. Clint is doing his man with no name performance, staring and snarling, boozy and abusive - so disagreeable I actually liked him. After much reluctance a bond with his Korean neighbour builds and the story progresses (surprisingly darkly) to an interesting ending.
"See you in three weeks, prick".
"Ohh… He’s a pussy kid from next door. I’m trying to man him up a little bit…"
"I used to stack fucks likes you five feet high in Korea… use ya for sand bags"
"Ever notice how you come across somebody once in a while you shouldn’t have fucked with? That’s me."
Billy Elliot (2000)
I did not want to watch this movie. However, when you have a Wife/Girlfriend/Husband/Partner every now and again you have to take one for the team. Every now and again I am pleasantly surprised.
This is just about the best Ballet movie set in the North East of England during the 1980s miner strike i’ve ever seen. Niche.
Billy is sent to Boxing lessons by his stereotypical Miner Father. But Billy but doesn’t want to learn Boxing and instead sneaks off to learn Ballet from Julie Walters…. potentially opening the door to a brighter future….
Outwardly this is your basic going against the grain acceptance seeking movie but if you look a little closer it’s as much about the growth of Billy’s Father and indeed his instructor Julie Walters as it is the wee lady.
Great performers portraying amusing characters and really quite a charming tale. Very much in the Full Monty realm of feel good loveliness and the Ballet even impressed on occasion.
“Just because I like ballet doesn’t mean I’m a poof, you know”.
“If you want, I’ll show you me fanny”.
“All right for your Nana, for girls. No, not for lads, Billy. Lads do football… or boxing… or wrestling. Not friggin’ ballet”.
“I don’t want to do your stupid fucking audition! You only want me to do it for your own benefit!”
"I hate you! You’re a Bastard!"
"Dance you little twat!"

How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)

Goooood. Review here

We own the Night (2007)
Nightclub Manager Joaquin Phoenix lives too closely to the criminal underworld and manages a club for some shady geezers. Problems arise however when his Cop Father and Brother start looking at his club and the people that frequent it…
A blood is thicker than water, family loyalty exploration piece with some tension, a fair amount of drugs, occasional violence and very convincing performances.
Phoenix is in fine form in almost a duel role going from strung out drug addicted idiot to pretty much all action hero. Eva Mendes oozes sex appeal throughout whilst Robert Duvall and Mark Walhberg offer great support.
A decent 80s set New York crime drama meets Police procedural.
“If you piss in your pants, you only stay warm for so long”.
"Yeah, you keep thinking about my girlfriend while you’re fucking your fat fucking wife!"
"You know a Cop that got hit today? You think that was coincidence?"
"We have all their names, on a list"
"What about your girlfriend, she knows about you right?"
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)

Oooh it’s Dances with Wolves only rather than Indians we have awesome looking mo-cap monkey’s with machine guns. I’m in.
10 years after the first one and mankind is pretty much wiped out, only 1 in 500 have survived. Meanwhile Cesar’s apes have thrived. Mankind’s only hope of power comes from a dam in Ape territory… The problem is Apes and Man do not mix well.
As eluded to above Jason Clarke and his family enter the Ape’s village and quicky go native whist those around them monger for war through fear, hatred and lack of understanding. Classic racism allegory of course.
The story goes a little baggy in places but overall I was happy with the pacing and the pivotal moments through unsurprising we’re well handled.
The main thing about this movie is the visuals. Serkis yet again proves he’s king of his domain but may have a challenger in Nick Thurstan - whether Actor or Computer the emotion portrayed by the Ape Blue Eyes is occasionally heartbreaking. There is a scene involving a rotating tank turret that was just awesome, right up there with the parachute jump in Godzilla in my most memorable images this year. And as for the Baby Ape? How cute is that little bastard? I want one.
Really enjoyed the first outing of this rebooted series and enjoyed this one only a little bit less.
"You are not ape!"
"Ape not kill Ape".
"A good man. Like you".
"Human Gun!"