Decade Definers: 1980s – Birth Of The Action Hero

Written by Chris Gelderd

Like most things in life, it’s hard to pin-point the exact formation of something. A season. A movement. A trend. These things just seem to happen when every factor around it comes into alignment and all the signs point to go. Somethings just naturally work with the environment around them. The film industry also does this and has done for over 100 years

The 1980s saw the formation of many things that changed the industry forever. The emergence of special effects allowed film-makers to really let their imagination blossom. Risks were being taken across horror, sci-fi and comedy with franchises taking off left right and centre, content being pushed for teen audiences (the introduction of the US PG-13 rating for such an occasion) and talent was setting the bar high in their chosen genres, such as Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Jane Fonda and Eddie Murphy to name but a few.

Yet the 80s was a decade that discovered a new wave of acting and creative talent that changed the way we look at action movies and their heroes forever, and we can see that winning template is used in films today to cater to new generations.

The world needed heroes, and the right men – and women – came along at the right time to deliver. Not satisfied with your suave Brit Sir Roger Moore and his family friendly James Bond adventures, mature audiences wanted more. More action! More violence! More stars! More outrageous, exciting, balls-to-the-wall popcorn entertainment!

The studios listened. The creative talent put pen to paper. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the 1980s and the birth of the action hero!

Ask any film fan to name 5 action stars and they will probably give the same names.  From just a rather small selection of big name stars throughout the 1980s, we certainly got a truckload of memorable and long-standing action films from them. Some spawned franchises that still are going strong today, others simply one off treasures. Either way, they helped shape a genre that inspired much of what we see today on the big (and small) screen.

Let’s take a look at some of the big names that came to be during the 1980s and how they helped shape the action movie itself.

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Arnold Schwarzenegger

One man proved you didn’t need to be the next Charlton Heston of the acting world in order to make shockwaves across Hollywood and the world. Sometimes all you needed was a thick, inimitable European accent, muscles the size of watermelons and the passion to chase the American dream. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the ‘Austrian Oak’, did just that when he launched onto the scene during the 1980s with his imposing, unique frame as a bit player in cheaply produced movies before the studio execs took a risk and cast him in films where dialogue and plot were minimal, but action and iconography where high.

Arnie gave us 9 movies during the 1980s that became classics of the genre and his trademark style of witty one-liners, high violence, break-neck stunts and blending action into sci-fi, fantasy and comedy. From ‘Conan The Destroyer’ in 1982 that tested his boundaries for taking any role seriously and dishing out action in any form he was given, he soon was given movies such as ‘The Terminator’ in 1984, ‘Commando’ in 1985 and ‘Predator’ in 1987.

Each film was unique and different, letting Arnie win over fans and critics not with his acting, but with his ability to be an action hero across any genre who was tough talking, physically imposing and looked like a demi-God with his muscles and strong stance. He used any means at his disposal to eradicate bad guys – and sometimes good guys – and gave James Bond a run for his money with the one liners. Arnie became synonymous with action films and many of his 80s films stand strong today and shape franchise on the big and small screen in a career built on action that doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.

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Sylvester Stallone

Stallone gave us two big ‘R’s throughout the 70s and 80s…and 90s and 00s, all things considered. Rocky Balboa was his character for sport and drama, but Rambo was his character for action and excitement. From 1982 to 1988 (and 2008, but we’re not here for that), Stallone carved a new niche for his action ability in the form of John Rambo, a traumatized Vietnam veteran.

After a debut in ‘First Blood’ that actually gave us a grounded action film that used drama, humanity and tension as its main driving points, it’s two sequels “First Blood Part II” and “Rambo III” threw humanity out the window (literally) and cranked up the chaos to 10.

Muscles bulging as he waged war against the Vietnamese and Russians to save POWs and innocent people, Rambo became the invincible one-man army whom America and the world could count on.  Armed with  rocket launchers and sub-machine guns, bow and arrows and hunting knifes, Rambo proved Stallone could deliver the sort of story fuelled action audiences wanted, and it continued over his career with the likes ‘Tango & Cash’, ‘Demolition Man’ and ‘The Expendables’.

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Bruce Willis

An interesting case study indeed when you look at it. Out of all the action heroes of the 80s, Willis looked least likely. He wasn’t imposing to look at, not intimidating to hear talk and his career launched in the 1984 US comedy drama TV show ‘Moonlighting’ and the 1987 comedy romance film ‘Blind Date’.

Fox produced a film based on a 1979 novel ‘Nothing Lasts Forever’, a sequel to the 1966 book ‘The Detective’, which was adapted into a 1968 film starring Frank Sinatra and allowed Sinatra to accept or decline to star in the new film. He declined. Arnold Schwarzenegger declined it as a sequel to ‘Commando’. Who was left to cast? Bruce Willis, obviously.

Now when you say the words ‘Die Hard’, it conjures up a film often agreed to be the greatest action film of the 1980s. A simple story about a New York cop saving hostages inside a skyscraper whilst taking down a small army of European terrorists was just what people wanted. Full of explosive action, snappy humour, a surprising world-weary and iconic portrayal by Willis of NYPD cop John McClane and a villain as dastardly and suave as them come in the guise of the late, great Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber.

‘Die Hard’ quickly became a template to base an action hero saving the day against the odds, and shaped the hero who could be an everyday cop in the wrong place at the wrong time, not just a muscle bound war hero or super soldier. It launched four sequels, video games and also Willis’s career into action orbit and also the greatest debate going in movies today – “Is Die Hard a Christmas film or not?”.

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Sigourney Weaver

The 80s action market was a place for men. Women had little chance to show they could do as much damage as the guys sadly, but one woman took a role, built it up over a franchise and proved that with the right support, it wasn’t just the men who could kick ass and save the world…or galaxy.

Sigourney Weaver has her niche in drama and comedy, but her action debut came in a little known sci-fi film in the late 1970s called ‘Alien’ that had her go up and survive against a deadly alien being in space, where nobody could hear her or her ill-fated male crew scream. The role of Warrant Officer Ellen Ripley was a big boost to female talent at that time, and while Weaver continued her box-office draw in comedy with other classics such as ‘Ghostbusters’ and ‘Working Girl’, the 80s saw her return to the role of Ripley in 1986s ‘Aliens’.

This time, Weaver led a group of male supporting actors as space marines to return to and wipe out the colony of aliens and their queen to save the galaxy from extinction. Weaver gave just as good as she got in terms of attitude, action and ability. A fine actress of her generation, she carried over a humane side to her tough-talking and ass-kicking Ripley going up against the deadly aliens and held her own, much like John McClane in ‘Die Hard’, being an everyday person up against the odds but who handles weaponry and heavy machinery as easy as breathing. Weaver cemented a successful and iconic role in an already iconic franchise and is one of the few female actors to carve out a successful action hero over the years.

Now, sadly, I have to rein this piece in because I could go on exploring defining actors and their roles for many more pages, but you all have lives and I must let you get on with them.

I hope this small glimpse into what the 1980s gave us in terms of action resonates with you. A handful of international actors helped produced dozens of action films with the support of creative talent such as James Cameron and Joel Silver that would resonate for years to come and also help launch female talent in front of and behind the camera around the world. The 80s gave us simple pleasures without the need for extensive plots, complicated stories and bloated character development. The era is almost a golden age of simplicity and it’s that simplicity that makes it so easy to return to watch any action film of the time for nothing but entertainment and enjoyment.

There are many more stars out there I could have mentioned. I’ll leave you with a handful more here to explore in your own time as ones who also helped define the action decade:

  • Jackie Chan (‘Police Story’, ‘Project A’)
  • Jean-Claude Van Damme (‘Bloodsport’, ‘Kickboxer’)
  • Harrison Ford (‘Raiders Of The Lost Ark’, ‘Blade Runner’)
  • Mel Gibson (‘Mad Max 2’, ‘Lethal Weapon’)
  • Chuck Norris (‘The Delta Force’, ‘Missing In Action’)
  • Kurt Russell (‘The Thing’, ‘Big Trouble In Little China’)

Yippie-ki-yay, mother f….

Martin Scorsese Signs On To Produce Joker Origin Film Outside Of DCEU

Last night, Deadline exclusively reported that a Joker origin film was in the works at Warner Bros., but would not take place within the established DC Extended Universe. The DCEU currently consists of ‘Man of Steel‘, ‘Batman v Superman‘, ‘Suicide Squad’, and ‘Wonder Woman‘, and has films such as ‘Flashpoint’, ‘Shazam’, ‘Black Adam’, ‘Green Lantern Corps’, and ‘Cyborg’ in it’s future.

Because of this, Jared Leto will not be reprising his role of the Clown Prince of Crime in this film, he is however expected to make an appearance in both ‘Suicide Squad 2’ and ‘Gotham Sirens’, which will both be part of the DCEU and feature Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn.

Todd Phillips (The Hangover) will reportedly direct this villainous origin film, as well as co-write the script with Scott Silver (8 Mile). Martin Scorsese has signed on as a produce, alongside Philips.

What are your thoughts on a new universe of DC characters at Warner Bros? Which character would you like to see get their own film outside of the DCEU?

Source: Deadline

Hong Kong Cinema: Top 5

Hong Kong cinema, I believe, is completely different to mainland Chinese cinema. There are a number of fairly obvious reasons why and probably the biggest is Hong Kong’s long colonial history under British rule. Hong Kong cinema had almost no government funding and filmmakers were therefore free to produce the products that they wanted, which were commercial in the main, as all funding had to be raised in the private sector.

For many years Hong Kong cinema proliferated, coming third in world output after Indian cinema and Hollywood. With Hong Kong’s return to China in the mid-90s, film production has continued to dominate and produce a distinctly different form of cinema. These films are made in Cantonese and Mandarin for East Asia audiences. Below are five films – in no particular order – that everyone should see as they typify the long and rich history of Hong Kong filmmaking.


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 1. ‘Enter the Dragon’ (1973); Action with lots of martial arts (English, Cantonese); Directed by Robert Clouse

This was Bruce Lee’s final film before he died at the age of 32. This film has often been described as the greatest martial arts film of all time and it’s also the first Hong Kong martial arts film to be produced by a major Hollywood studio – Warner Bros. Bruce Lee plays a Shaolin martial arts expert who is invited by the evil Mr Han (Shih Kien) to a martial arts competition on a remote Island. ‘Enter The Dragon’ involves plenty of action, treachery and revenge and with Lee at the fore – an incredibly charismatic actor – the action scenes are outstanding. You’ll need to be forgiving because some of the dialogue is weak and the dubbing is at times terrible, but ‘Enter The Dragon’ is well worth a watch.

Available: Netflix, Amazon to rent and DVD

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2. ‘Infernal Affairs’ (2002); Thriller (Cantonese with English subtitles); Directed by Andrew Lau, Alan Mak

Martin Scorsese loved this film so much that he had it translated and made into Oscar gold in the form of ‘The Departed’. The original though, is a taut thriller involving a new police officer who goes undercover in the triad, and a gangster who joins the police force as a mole reporting back to the triad boss. Although Scorsese’s effort is identical in story and content, it omits the incredible gun fight scenes that are carefully choreographed and particular to the Hong Kong original.

Available: Amazon Video, Netflix

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3. ‘Days of Being Wild’
(1990); Drama (Cantonese, English subtitles); Directed by Wong Kar-wei

This film features some of the most successful actors ever to grace Hong Kong cinema. Set in Hong Kong and the Philippines in 1960, Yuddy (Leslie Cheung) is a playboy, renowned for breaking hearts and avoiding any commitment. He finds out from the alcoholic ex-prostitute who raised him that she is not his mother and she refuses to tell him who is. This sets Yuddy on a search of discovery. A different kind of discovery to the one we’re imploring you to take, but a riveting one all the same.

Available: Amazon Video, Netflix

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4. ‘The Love Eterne’ (1963); Drama/Huangmei Opera/Musical (English subtitles in places); Directed by Li Han Hsiang

In this instance, the history and the power of the Shaw Brothers studio in Hong Kong cannot be underestimated. Produced by Run Run Shaw during the Golden Age of Hong Kong cinema, this film was a big deal on its release. Coming from a background of opera and theatre production, the three Shaw brothers dominated everything cinematic in Hong Kong for several decades. Probably not everyone’s cup of tea, but this is a little gem of a film even if you hate musicals (which I do vehemently).

Available: I’m not sure where – on US Netflix and a few download channels – fairly rare but worth seeking out.

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5. ‘Chungking Express’ (1994); Drama/Romance (Cantonese, Mandarin, English, Japanese with English subtitles); Directed by Wong Kar-wai

This film made Quentin Tarantino cry, simply because he was “happy to love a movie this much”. That aside, this is very much a film lover’s film. Arty, cerebral and highly stylised – the film incorporates two discrete love stories featuring Faye (Faye Wong) and two lovesick policemen that have been jilted. A great soundtrack and defining foreign language film of the 90s with a bunch of awards; ‘Chungking Express’ is slightly strange and totally captivating.

Available: Netflix, Amazon DVD

So, if you thought the films of China and Hong Kong were one and the same, think again. Check out these films and then say a big thank you to Wan Tyszkiewicz for introducing you to the magic of Hong Kong cinema.

Top 10 Boxing Movies

Written by Patrick Alexander

Sports play a major part in the way the world works; from Superbowl Sunday to the World Cup final, pretty much everyone follows one sport or another. The problem is, the popularity of sports in general dictates that Hollywood tries and tries to churn out successful sporting movies, but sporting movies are notoriously hard to get right. That said, boxing seems to be one of the few sports that does work on film, and I’m here to prove it with 10 great boxing movies. Before we crack on with this list, I have to give some honorable mentions to a few films that didn’t quite make it into the top 10. 


Rocky III (1982): When you think of boxing movies, you naturally think of the ‘Rocky’ franchise, but we can’t have seven ‘Rocky’ films in here can we? In this third film, the villain Clubber Lang (played by Mr. T) makes a strong case for himself and this is a great film, but not quite as good as some of the others in the series.

Cinderella Man (2005): One of Russell Crowe’s finest works, with a fantastic Paul Giamatti supporting role, but this film’s old-old-old school mentality lulls a hair too much to sneak into the top ten.

The Boxer (1997): Keeping it simple with the title, ‘The Boxer’ stars Daniel Day Lewis as a killer. But ‘The Boxer’ is not even his best film about being an Irish Revolutionary. I mean, come on Daniel; what kind of warped sequel to ‘In the Name of the Father’ is this? 

Okay, on with the real winners…


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10. Fat City (1972); Directed by John Huston; Starring Stacy Keach, Jeff Bridges

Synopsis: Two men, working as professional boxers, come to blows when their careers each begin to take opposite momentum.

Verdict: A real old school boxing flick and the godfather of all boxing movies, pre-dating both ‘Rocky’ and ‘Raging Bull’. Stacy Keach, as Tully, carries the film’s focus in his showdown with a young Jeff Bridges. ‘Fat City’ is everything you want it to be; non-formulaic, aware of its angle, full of classic 70s dialogue, and a rip-roaring bout that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Had the story aged better over time, ‘Fat City’ would, indubitably, deserve to be ranked higher.


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9. The Fighter (2010); Directed by David O. Russell; Starring: Christian Bale, Mark Wahlberg

Synopsis: A look at the early years of boxer “Irish” Micky Ward, and his brother who helped train him before going pro in the mid 1980s.

Verdict: Micky Ward sure does come off as a prick, but with Bale and Wahlberg in tow, the director Russell actually makes you want to root for Ward by the end. Dysfunctional in nature, Dicky Eklund’s portrayal absolutely ties together what would have been a rather bland stint without him. Docked points for sub-par boxing scenes by Marky Mark, ‘The Fighter’ has a candor and a degree of authenticity which allows it to keep it’s head above water among the all-time boxing greats.


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8. Ali (2001); Directed by Michael Mann; Starring Will Smith, Jamie Foxx

Synopsis: A biography of sports legend, Muhammad Ali, from his early days to his time in the ring.

Verdict: Will Smith brings to life the childhood hero of many, Muhammad Ali. We’ve all got posters on our walls of the man who could truly float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. From his “Thrilla in Manila” to his personal journeys stateside, Ali fought more powers than just Sonny Liston and Joe Frazier. Smith’s wily persona of the world-class champion lands a devastating blow on this list amongst the great boxing flicks of old.


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7. Southpaw (2015); Directed by Antoine Fuqua; Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Forest Whitaker

Synopsis: Boxer Billy Hope turns to trainer Tick Wills to help him get his life back on track after losing his wife in a tragic accident and his daughter to child protection services.

Verdict: A vociferously flashy, most glamorous, Eminem-infused battle blast, ‘Southpaw’ attacks both fast and strong. Gyllenhaal is so unbelievably ripped and his surreal training sequences totally make this film. Fighting Miguel ‘Magic’ Escobar, the fiery Colombian antagonist only makes you root for Billy Hope and his lost hope even more. Some may call ‘Southpaw’ formulaic and chalk this one up to bias based on its recent release, but Antoine Fuqua gets everything right from tight boxing sequences, to max-level grandeur, to a hard-hitting lefty landing a wonderful wallop into this top ten.


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6. Rocky IV (1985); Directed by Sylvester Stallone; Starring Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren

Synopsis: After iron man Ivan Drago, a highly intimidating 6-foot-5, 261-pound Soviet athlete, kills Apollo Creed in an exhibition match, Rocky comes to the heart of Russia for 15 pile-driving boxing rounds of revenge.

Verdict: In the fight that single-handedly ended the Cold War, Rocky goes toe-to-toe with the juiced-up Russian cyborg machine, Ivan Drago, who inexplicably felled the great Apollo Creed. Rocky lights our hearts on fire by selecting the hard way out in defeating his Russian nemesis. Through snow-clogged sprints and intense cabin training, Rocky once again shows us that there are no demons out there incapable of being defeated. A 15-round packed-punch of emotion, passion, and defeating the Soviets lands ‘Rocky IV’ a place in the throes of greatness.


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5. Undisputed (2002); Directed by Walter Hill; Starring Wesley Snipes, Ving Rhames

Synopsis: When heavyweight champion George ‘Iceman’ Chambers lands himself in prison, the resident gangster arranges a boxing match with the reigning prison champ.

Verdict: Outside of having, pound-for-pound, the greatest boxing sequence of all time in film history (and you can take that to the bank), ‘Undisputed’ brings the unique concept of prison boxing to the table, an advantage unbeknownst to any other of its contemporaries. Iceman Chambers vs. Monroe Hutchens is right up there with Balboa vs. Creed, in terms of strength of fighting skills plus high class drama. The total underdog of the list, ‘Undisputed’ will wow you with its technical, authentic feeling final round. A must-see for boxing fans everywhere.


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4. Creed (2015); Directed by Ryan Coogler; Starring Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone

Synopsis: Everyone’s favourite former World Heavyweight Champion, Rocky Balboa, serves as trainer and mentor to Adonis Johnson, the son of his late friend and former rival Apollo Creed.

Verdict: After the abomination that was ‘Rocky Balboa’, ‘Creed’ gets the franchise right back in line with technically savvy, intense boxing, led by magnificently deft camera work throwing us into all angles of the ring. Throw in real life boxer, Tony Bellow, playing the indomitable ‘Pretty’ Ricky Conlon across the ring from Adonis Johnson (Creed), and the authenticity levels are unparalleled. With great training montages, including a dirt bike sidled run up the steps to victory, ‘Creed’ supplants not only Southpaw as the best boxing flick of 2015, but perhaps may be the #1 boxing picture of the past decade.


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3. The Hurricane (1999); Directed by Norman Jewison; Starring Denzel Washington, Liev Schreiber

Synopsis: The story of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, a boxer wrongly imprisoned for murder, and the people who aided in his fight to prove his innocence.

Verdict: One of the better “outside the ring” stories of the bunch, elevated by a Mt. Rushmore performance by Washington. Washington, as Rubin “Hurricane” Carter fights not only his weary opponents in the ring, but the racism and hate that imprisoned an innocent man, until love overflows to bust him out. A real knockout punch right into the sixteenth round, ‘The Hurricane’ will box a hole right into the throws of your heart.


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2. Rocky (1976); Directed by John G. Avildsen; Starring Sylvester Stallone, Carl Stone

Synopsis: Rocky Balboa, a small-time boxer, gets a supremely rare chance to fight the heavy-weight champion, Apollo Creed, in a bout in which he strives to go the distance for his self-respect.

Verdict: The ultimate underdog story. The picture that made you believe you could conquer any obstacle in life by running up a few steps in front of a local museum. Bill Conti’s epic soundtrack, Rocky Balboa’s finest clash with Apollo Creed, and the city of Philadelphia’s soul combine to make ‘Rocky’ an all-timer. With Burgess Meredith, a world class stick man, and the darling Talia Shire along for the ride, Rocky conquers every mountain, both real and metaphorical on its climb to the top (well, nearly the top).


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1. Raging Bull (1980); Directed by Martin Scorsese; Starring Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci

Synopsis: An emotionally self-destructive boxer’s journey through life, as the violence and temper that leads him to the top in the ring, destroys his life outside it.

Verdict: A legendary, poetic performance by the menace of a boxer, Robert De Niro playing Jack La Motta. This it the film that makes any young kid want to be a boxer and perhaps evokes a raging bull inside all of us. ‘Raging Bull’ is filled with demons, relief, and a pleasantly insane narrative. Viciously brutal boxing sequences mixing slow beating and frenetic flurries of blows, plus a heart of gold, mean Scorsese’s finest work tops this list.

Netflix Highlights: January

As we say goodbye to January, we welcome in February with a look back at all the best films added to Netflix at the start of this year. Our Netflix expert, Mark Blakeway, has put together this handy list so you can binge and chill.


TWOWS

The Wolf Of Wall Street

“HOW DID HE NOT WIN AN OSCAR!?”

In what will surely go down as one of the biggest injustices of the Academy Awards, Leo DiCaprio gives arguably a career-best performance, starring as Jordan Belfort.

“HOW DID THIS FILM NOT WIN ANY OSCARS?”

That’s a tougher question, but the fact it was up for five Oscars is a clear indication as to just how good this movie is. DiCaprio plays a stockbroker on Wall Street, swimming in money but with a career based on fraud, his life is completely unpredictable. With Martin Scorcese at the reins, this story of a man we should probably hate, becomes one of the most entertaining and dare I say it, hilarious, films to ever grace our screens.

All Is Lost

If too much happened in ‘Captain Phillips’ for you, and you thought, “I wish there was a film where it was just a man on a boat”, then look no further. ‘All Is Lost’ showcases a powerful performance by Robert Redford, by quite literally being the only person in the entire film, as a man who utters only a few sentences throughout. He is faced with adversity and daunting isolation and the film is incredibly bleak. I think the only words he says once the film gets going is “fuck” and “help”… that says it all. For all the bleakness, this is one not to be missed.

CITY OF GOD

City Of God

Most people have seen this film, but if you haven’t, now presents a great time to watch it. Set within the slums of Rio De Janeiro, this is a shocking look at what life is like for those growing up with nothing but crime around them. As far as world cinema goes, this is a very accessible film and one that has gone down as a crime classic. Filled with unflinching violence and raw emotion, but always captivating, ‘City of God’ is an incredible example of expert storytelling.

Haywire

It’s quite rare that you find a film capable of building up a female action-hero to be such a bad-ass, without succumbing to all the typical, sexist traits. ‘Haywire’ allows MMA fighter Gina Carano – in her first ever acting role – to exploit her physical dominance in a role that sees her take on those who she used to work for. Previously a special government contract killer, now she is the one who needs to be killed? We’ve seen it before, but few have done it this well as of late.

The Hunter

A slow, but brooding drama, where Willem Dafoe treks about in beautiful scenery with a gun waiting to kill a tiger. He’s a bit of a loner, until he befriends a local family who are also on the hunt for one of their family members who has gone missing, and his simple mission to retrieve the animal becomes a little more complicated. For some, this may be a bit boring, but if you’re a fan of minimalist drama and nice landscape views, then you can’t go far wrong.

WNTTAK

We Need To Talk About Kevin

A mortifying thriller, which leans more towards a horror than your typical drama-with-an-edge. Based on the novel of the same name, and presumably based on any number of high-school massacres in the US, this is an important and intriguing look at what the mindset is of someone compelled to commit such atrocities. It’s a little sensationalised, but it needs to be in order to carry the more important message. A truly chilling film with fantastic performances all around, including a star turn from Ezra Miller (the guy set to play The Flash in the DCEU).

Battle Royale

Netflix keep removing and then adding this title for some reason (maybe it’s to keep putting it at the top of the new additions list). While the concept may sound a bit stale, what with all the “sole-survivor” styled films out there in recent years, but ‘Battle Royale’ was arguably the first one to hit our screens with such originality and ferocity. Based on the novel of the same name, this controversial and bloody thriller is not easy to stomach. Those looking for an intense viewing experience need look no further.

Timbuktu

A slow-paced film, made up of many individual stories that come together with one overriding and timely theme, and that is the theme of oppression in the name of religion. Sickening, infuriating and above all else, haunting, this depiction of Muslims under the rule of other Muslims is a message that cannot be taken lightly. Perhaps too quiet and slow for some, but one that is worth sticking with until the end.

Uncle Buck

Drugs? Fraud? Death? Religion? Those topics are a bit bleak! Lets lighten the mood. ‘Uncle Buck’ anyone? An easy-going comedy from the late 80’s starring John Candy, as a haphazard, unemployed babysitter for his brothers kids. Seemingly incapable of being the responsible adult, with your typical irresponsible kids, it’s a recipe for disaster. But still, it’s a happy, heartwarming comedy too. One to watch if you are completely bummed out by the other suggestions.

Watch This Space: November 16 – 22

Welcome to your weekly go-to film guide – WatchThisSpace – where we recommend what to watch in the cinema and on the television, and remind you of those brilliant films hiding in your DVD collection.

IN THE CINEMA

Out this week is the final installment of ‘The Hunger Games’ franchise, with ‘Mockingjay Part Two’. The film will see the civil war of Panem reach its climax, as Katniss Everdeen (played by the perfectly cast Jennifer Lawrence) leads a group of rebels to the Capitol to assassinate President Snow. It’s also worth mentioning that this is the last film of the exceptional Philip Seymour Hoffman, after tragically passing away last year. The franchise finale is set to be a box-office smash, and for fans of the series this is definitely one to watch.

ON TV

Monday 22:45 GMT: Had a tough Monday? Unwind with the simple but brilliant comedy ‘Meet The Parents’ on BBC1. Easy-watching doesn’t come much easier than this, with slapstick humour aplenty from Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro.

Tuesday 19:00 GMT: Okay so it might feel too early to get into the Christmas spirit, but Film4 certainly think it’s time. Watch the classic story of Ebeneezer Scrooge, in the modern adaptation ‘Scrooged’, starring Bill Murray as the main miser.

Thursday 21:00 GMT: Have an excellent Thursday with the weird and wonderful adventures of ‘Wayne’s World’ on 5*. Check out our review if you need any more persuading. Alternatively, newbies to ‘The Hunger Games’ franchise can see where it all began on Film4.

Friday 23:35 GMT: Loosely based on true events, ‘Badlands’ is all about James Dean lookalike Kit, played by Martin Sheen, and the much younger lady he falls in love with, as they embark on an unfortunate road trip through the South Dakota badlands. Filled with violence and murder, this fantastic Bonnie-and-Clyde-esque film makes BBC2 the place to be this Friday.

Saturday 21:45 GMT: With an outstanding ensemble female cast, including Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Jessica Chastain, Bryce Dallas Howard and Octavia Spencer, ‘The Help’ is one of those films that everybody should see at least once. Luckily, BBC2 are on hand to deliver a movie which will make you laugh and break your heart in equal measure.

DIG IT OUT

This is our favourite part of the WatchThisSpace section. We delve into our own DVD collection and pick out some amazing films, that may not instantly spring to mind when you’re stuck for inspiration to make your movie night a success. Maybe you’ve never seen a film that we pick – or even heard of them for that matter – but you’re gonna have to trust us on this one, and Dig It Out.

The Artist: How can you describe one of the best movie experiences of one’s life?  How can you make a black and white, silent movie set in 1927 (but made in 2011) sound appealing? Would a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 97% swing it? How about the exemplary French and American cast, including Jean Dujardin and John Goodman? Maybe the quirky plot piques your interest, as silent movie star George and young dancer Peppy’s lives drastically change as the pioneering ‘talking pictures’ take over Hollywood. Reams and reams could be said on behalf of this modern film which says nothing at all, but truth be told, seeing is believing. Beautiful, uplifting and inspired by simpler times, this is one you should definitely seek out.

Mean Streets: It’s Mr Martin Scorsese’s birthday this Tuesday, and whilst this man should be celebrated on a daily basis, now would be as good a time as any. Last week, our Twitter debates focused on the legendary director, with ‘Goodfellas’ crowned his finest work. One film which didn’t feature in the discussions was ‘Mean Streets’. This beautifully crafted crime movie is one of Scorsese’s earlier works, but with the familiar faces of Robert De Niro and Harvey Keitel in leading roles, its appeal still resonates with today’s audience. Fans of Marty, and the crime genre as a whole, should check this out as a priority.

The Nightmare Before Christmas: It’s not quite the most wonderful time of the year, but the spookiest time of year has officially passed. What better film to settle you in for the transition between holidays than Tim Burton’s classic stop-motion film about Jack, the Pumpkin King of Halloweentown, as he decides to take over Christmas for one year. With a catchy soundtrack by Danny Elfman, a love story between Jack and Sally, the rag doll, and a heart-warming conclusion, this is the perfect film to watch now those darker nights are settling in.

A Scanner Darkly: Based on the novel by Philip K. Dick, this surreal, futuristic film is interesting for many reasons. First of all, the whole thing is shot in a quirky, animated style which gives it a strangely fun feel, which is cleverly contrasted against a narrative focusing on identity, law, surveillance and drug use. Starring Keanu Reeves, Winona Ryder, Woody Harrelson and a brilliant performance from Robert Downey Jr, as well as being directed by Richard Linklater (Boyhood), this crazy film is executed brilliantly. ‘A Scanner Darkly’ has achieved something of a cult status since its release in 2006, and now is the time for you to find out why.

This week’s WatchThisSpace was compiled by Sasha Hornby and Jakob Lewis Barnes

Watch This Space: August 31 – September 6

Welcome to your weekly go-to film guide – WatchThisSpace – where we recommend what to watch in the cinema and on the television, and remind you of those brilliant films hiding in your DVD collection.

IN THE CINEMA

Get ready for a weekend full of “youth culture” references. At the top of the bill is ‘American Ultra’, starring Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart. Despite these big names, this film has received rather mediocre reviews across the board (6.5 on IMDb and 50 on MetaCritic). If you want a more positive opinion on this stoner-action-comedy, check out our review.

Over in America, cinema-goers have had the privilege of seeing ‘Dope’ for more than two months now, and it’s finally the turn of the UK to witness this indie film success story. A strong young cast, entertaining narrative and delightful soundtrack have seen this film garner praise from pretty much everyone, including us. Read our review here.

Another rousing success which came out of nowhere this summer, will finally hit the big screens across the UK. From a director better known for his horror works, comedy-drama ‘Me & Earl & The Dying Girl’ was hugely popular around the film festival circuits this year, and should be the pick of the weekend’s cinema releases.

ON TELEVISION

Monday 21:00 GMT: Jason Bourne crashes into your living room to get your week off to an explosive start. Tune into ITV2 on Monday night to see ‘The Bourne Identity’, the first installment of this fantastic trilogy. Once you’ve experienced this adrenaline-pumping thrill ride, you’ll be straight down the DVD store the next day to pick up the rest.

Thursday 21:00 GMT: Ian McEwan’s novel ‘Atonement’ is probably his most famous work, and much of that success is owed to this film adaptation. On More4, this is an emotional wartime drama starring two of Britain’s finest in James McAvoy and Keira Knightley. It also stars someone I know personally as an extra, so I have to suggest this one really – look out for the man on the bandstand reading the words out of a hat in the beach scene.

Friday 23:05 GMT: Film4 is showing the classic psychological thriller ‘The Sixth Sense’. If you’ve seen it before, then it’s still more than worth a watch. If you are yet to see this film however, then get ready for one hell of a ride.

Sunday 18:40 GMT: This week’s family film is out of this world, quite literally. ‘ET: The Extra Terrestrial’ is as iconic as they come, so sit back and see the weekend away in style with the family classic on ITV2.

Sunday 21:00 GMT: If you fancy something somewhat darker to see yourself into next week, then make sure you switch on Film4 this Sunday night. As far as we’re concerned here at JumpCut UK, ‘Shutter Island’ is the epitome of everything that’s right with cinema; Di Caprio, under the direction of Scorsese is surely enough to get your attention. This dark psychological thriller will have you questioning everything you deem to be real, even your own existence. You’ve been warned.

DIG IT OUT

This is our favourite part of the WatchThisSpace section. We delve into our own DVD collection and pick out some amazing films, that may not instantly spring to mind when you’re stuck for inspiration to make your movie night a success. Maybe you’ve never seen a film that we pick – or even heard of them for that matter – but you’re gonna have to trust us on this one, and Dig It Out.

The Prestige: The list of reasons we could use to get you watching this film is endless, but we’re sure the mention of ‘Star Wars’ will get your attention. Last week, the guys at ‘The Force Awakens’ HQ released a short teaser clip to Instagram, which featured the voice of Andy Serkis as Supreme Leader Snoke. Serkis may be better known for his contributions to motion-capture acting, but he is just as adept when it comes to traditional acting. Look out for him in a supporting role in this magical film.

Whiplash: On Tuesday, JK Simmons will turn 60. The writers at JumpCut UK absolutely love ‘Whiplash’ and that is in no small part down to JK Simmons and his role as the ferociously ruthless music instructor Terrence Fletcher, a performance which nabbed the Oscar for Actor in a Supporting Role at the 2015 Academy awards. Get ready to tap your feet and cover your eyes as you enjoy the ensemble of Jazz music and terrifying abuse. You can read our review of ‘Whiplash’ here.

Dead Man’s Shoes: One film that you may not have heard of, but you need to add to your DVD collection as soon as possible, is ‘Dead Man’s Shoes’. This is a gritty, British film from the messiah of the realist film industry, Shane Meadows. This grizzly tale of revenge may not be light viewing, but it’s a brilliant and enthralling film which we guarantee you will want to watch again. Paddy Considine is absolutely fantastic in this film, but if you’ve seen him in cult comedy ‘Hot Fuzz’, then be prepared to see him in a whole new light.

Training Day: Here’s one just for the hell of it. This 2001 crime-thriller is an action-packed, devastating film full of guns, drugs and violence, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. In another Oscar-winning performance, Denzel Washington stars as a rogue detective, opposite Ethan Hawke, and is just as ruthless and fearsome as JK Simmons’ ‘Whiplash’ character. If you haven’t seen ‘Training Day’ before, then you had better get with the program, quick!

This week’s WatchThisSpace was compiled by Jakob Lewis Barnes and Nick Deal

Leo And Marty Team Up Again

Time to get excited everyone! The best actor in the world (unofficially), Leonardo DiCaprio, and the best director in the world (also unofficial), Martin Scorsese, are teaming up once again. Great things always happen when these two come together on a project – ‘The Wolf Of Wall Street’ springs to mind – and this time around, we could maybe, possibly, finally see that Academy Award fall into Leo’s arms.

We know you hear that every time Leo signs up for a new role, but we are hopeful that this will be his best shot in a while. The untitled project, adapted from Erik Larson’s 2003 non-fiction book ‘The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair That Changed America’ (we assume they will condense that title considerably for the film), will tell the story of 19th century serial killer Dr HH Holmes. The malevolent doctor is believed to have killed anywhere between 27 and 200 patients, by various gruesome methods, which as horrible a topic as this may be, sounds just the ticket for a dark, gritty, Oscar-winning performance. Here’s hoping!

Written by Jakob Lewis Barnes