DARKMATTERS - The Mind of Matt

You met me at a very strange time in my life...

Read my novel: COMPLETE DARKNESS

Sunday, January 12, 2020

1917 - War is hell but sure looks incredible review


1917 (15)

Dir. Sam Mendes

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“They're walking into a trap. Your orders are to deliver a message calling off tomorrow mornings attack, if you fail, it will be a massacre…”

War is hell – and Sam ‘Skyfall’ Mendes certainly brings the full horror of World War 1 to the big screen in a truly cinematographic feast for the eyes. 1917 tells a tale he was passed on by his grandfather of two young soldiers on a vital mission to deliver a message that could possibly save thousands of allied troops.

What is truly stunning is that this exciting and devastating drama was filmed and edited as if it was one long take, with the camera tracking Lance Corporal’s Blake (Dean-Charles ‘Game of Thrones’ Chapman) and Schofield (George ‘Captain Fantastic’ MacKay), as they undertake a perilous gambit behind enemy lines.

"Full metal panic"

The cinematography is staggering and whilst it is undoubtedly a harrowing tale, there is much to appreciate visually thanks to Roger ‘Blade Runner 2049’ Deakins' work. The mix of fear and adrenaline is visceral viewing as the camera travels a few inches above the dirt advancing with our two leads. Danger is everywhere and life is cheap as every enemy encounter is potentially fatal. 1917 doesn’t play like an action adventure, this is grittier and more savage, and all the more engaging for it.

It’s easy to see why 1917 took home two Golden Globes as it is without a doubt a technical masterpiece, giving us another glimpse at the horror and brutality of war – shot through with the cost of service and sacrifice. What the troops had to endure in the trenches is grimly writ large, even the other soldiers are a mix of shell-shocked and dispirited. The battle set pieces feel scarily realistic, this film will keep you on the edge of your seat to the heart-breaking conclusion.

"Brothers in arms"

The cast are excellent, including quality support from the likes of Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch and Mark Strong who bring gravitas to their small but key parts. The two leads are superbly believable in their desperate mission that will push them beyond what most could endure.
Mendes demonstrates a rare gift for being able to demonstrate how bravery is not a substitute for vulnerability but rather the ability to overcome fear and push forward anyway.

1917 might just be one of the best war movies of all time and an incredible piece of filmmaking that should be witnessed on the largest screen you can find.

Out of a potential 5 - you have to go with a Darkmatters:

ööööö

(5 - Stunning vision of hell through a new lense)

Awesomeness ööööö – Powerful and heart-pounding throughout

Laughs öö – Darkly funny in places

Horror öööö – Nasty injuries throughout, plus death and peril

Spiritual Enlightenment öööö - Honour in mission



Want some more madness? 
Check out COMPLETE DARKNESS which delivers near future nightmares...





Thursday, January 02, 2020

Achtung Jojo Rabbit Review


Jojo Rabbit (12a)

Dir. Taika Waititi

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“You're not a Nazi, Jojo. You're a ten-year-old kid who likes dressing up in a funny uniform…”

World War II really wasn’t a laughing matter but Taika ‘Hunt For The Wilderpeople’ Waititi somehow manages to deliver a superbly funny WW2 satire that tells the tale of lonely Hitler Youth enthusiast Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis). Jojo lives with his wildly independent single mother (Scarlett Johansson) in Germany as the end of the war approaches – and he is aghast to find out his mum is hiding a young Jewish girl (Thomasin McKenzie) in their attic.

"if you're Nazi and you know it - jump"

Jojo has a secret, an idiotic imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler himself no less (played by Waititi) – who stokes the young lad’s ideological indoctrination.

This comic Nazi-em-up might sound like being in poor taste but it goes full-throttle hilarious from the off and you’ll be caught up in the infectious madness before you know it. The premise is liable to make viewers uncomfortable as it makes fun of the horrific fascism, but the clever writing is spot on and makes lots of really good points about the horror of war.

"fabulous to the end"

Jojo earns his ‘Rabbit’ nickname due his unwillingness to kill a captured rabbit in front of his Hitler Youth troop. His gentle nature exposed gives an insight into how he is caught up in something that he can’t fully understand. The relationship between Roman Griffin Davis and Thomasin McKenzie is what gives the film such resonance. Real warmth and chemistry from their polar opposite positions leads to many wonderful comedic scenes. Johansson is great too and her ‘live free’ mentality is core to the message that we should all try to act on the right side of humanity – whatever the cost.

"wartime pals"

Waititi’s comic opus has echoes of Wes Anderson, Mel Brooks and Charlie Chaplin but also creates something entirely new and brilliant. His dedication to this project (he wrote and directed – as well as starring) is backed up by some superb cinematography and a great soundtrack.

"dinner banter"

All the cast go about the madness with gusto and quality supporting roles from Rockwell and Rebel Wilson are hilariously over the top. Special mention should go to newcomer Archie Yates who plays Jojo’s pal Yorkie as he gets some movie stealing scenes in his determination to be a good little Nazi.

Jojo Rabbit feels like a very timely film shining an important light on such a horrific time in human history and finding heartfelt humour in it.

Out of a potential 5 - you have to go with a Darkmatters:

ööööö

(5 - Best Nazi-em-up ever!)

Awesomeness ööööö – Audacious and brilliant scenes abound

Laughs ööööö – Really funny, will break you!

Horror ööö – Some grimness

Spiritual Enlightenment öö - Where would you stand?



Want some more madness? 
Check out COMPLETE DARKNESS which delivers near future nightmares...


Saturday, December 28, 2019

Darkmatter’s Top Ten Films 2019


Matt’s Top Ten Films 2019







10. Le Mans ‘66

The amazing true(ish) story of the slick Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and his rough-but-decent driver pal Ken Miles (Christian Bale). These men’s mission is to create a car for Henry Ford II (Tracy Letts) capable of besting Ferrari’s legendary vehicles in 1966’s 24-hour Le Mans. Bromances don’t come much better…



9. Destroyer

Kidman is on scenery-chewing form, undergoing a physically incredible transformation to show the horrific state she’s in after years of alcohol abuse. Her present-day looks contrast sharply with flashbacks to when she was a bright-eyed, beautiful young cop sent undercover to infiltrate a dangerous gang of bank robbers. This is bleak, brilliant filmmaking that will tear your soul apart.




8. The Favourite

Watching these two leading ladies locked in a battle of wits, with the Queen’s favour the prize, is diabolical fun that pulls no punches. It’s not just the loyalties of the Court that are switched and played with as events take dubious twists – viewers too are in for an emotional rollercoaster ride. The Favourite is a film that might well live up to its name…



7. Once Upon A Time in Hollywood

Quentin Tarantino is back with his 9th film – spinning the tall tale of what might have happened ‘Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood’. This is a love letter to 1969 Los Angeles, where everything is changing, as fading TV star Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his long-time stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) make their way around an industry they hardly recognize anymore. Highly watchable stuff!



6. The Irishman

Netflix have bet big on The Irishman, the story of lifetime mobster Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran (Robert De Niro showing he is still a freaking acting legend). Based on the memoir ‘I Heard You Paint Houses’ compiled by investigator Charles Brandt – the title alludes to how the walls change colour when someone is shot ‘painting’ the walls with their blood. This Irishman is excellent and shows that the old boys can sometimes still school the youngsters in the cinematic art. Well played Netflix in making this happen!



5. Joker

“Is it just me, or is it getting crazier out there?” asks Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix), of his counsellor, after being attacked and beaten in the street by a gang of youths.  What follows is a heart-breaking odyssey into madness and violence that traces the birth of Gotham’s clown prince of chaos – Joker. What we have here is the full-throttle descent of a misunderstood man who has no positive reference points. Joker is a timely instant classic - put on a happy face!!



4. Glass

Glass feels like a spiritual odyssey that tackles the mystery of what it is to be human as much as it is a thinking person’s comic book tale. It is gorgeously shot and cleverly ties in the previous films to leave audiences broken and challenged. A cracking cinematic achievement, Glass is the antidote for anyone who is suffering from super-hero burnout.



3. A Good Woman is Hard to Find

The standout finale to this year’s FrightFest – and one of the only films to have a 100% ‘Fresh’ Rotten Tomatoes rating. This is the brutal tale of Sarah (Sarah Bolger) a recently widowed young mother. Her son Ben has been an elective mute since the day he witnessed his father being knifed to death on their estate. Police have done nothing to catch the killer, but never underestimate the power of a good woman…



2. Booksmart

Booksmart is super sharply written and innovative – blessed with a fantastic cast who include a winning turn as uber driving school principal (Jason Sudeikis), plus Will Forte and Lisa Kudrow as Amy’s super-Christian, gay-supportive parents and Gigi (Billie Lourd) – an unhinged Heathers / Mean Girls type. You can almost smell the adolescence and feel the heartbreak as Wilde delivers so many superb cinematic experiences – all backed up with a killer soundtrack. Funniest film of the year by a mile.



1. Avengers: Endgame

Payoff is exactly what this delivers - for a supremely satisfying, total adrenaline rush of superhero adventure – there is simply nothing to match Avengers: Endgame. At three hours, the runtime might be butt-numbing, but it’s certainly never dull. The winning interplay of the heroes and a cleverly worked renewed threat mean that Endgame delivers both some excellent fun moments (Thor playing Fortnite!?) and the crunching action scenes that scale intimate duels and epically huge final showdown with a deft touch.


Read my Top Films of 2018 here




Thursday, December 05, 2019

Matt Paints Houses with The Irishman


The Irishman (18)

Dir Martin Scorsese

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“Would you like to be a part of this, Frank? Would you like to be a part of this history?”

Netflix have bet big on The Irishman, the story of lifetime mobster Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran (Robert De Niro showing he is still a freaking acting legend). Based on the memoir ‘I Heard You Paint Houses’ compiled by investigator Charles Brandt – the title alludes to how the walls change colour when someone is shot ‘painting’ the walls with their blood.

The Irishman is a truly epic tale which covers the time period of the 1940s right through to the early 2000s. Director Scorsese takes us on this trip of how Sheeran rose from a low-level hood to become the right-hand man of Union boss Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino).

'that infamous unimpressed look...'

If this sounds a bit like the narrative style of Goodfellas or Casino - Scorsese’s two other told-in-retrospect gangster films – that’s because it is, and it works superbly making this feel like the third in his mobster classic series. For me The Irishman is also the most likeable of the three and it’s certainly the longest coming in at a riveting three-and-a-half-hour runtime.

Throughout the compelling sharing of events, there is very much the sense that we’re witnessing a sugar-coated version of what went down. Sheeran might not be a completely trustworthy narrator, glossing over the dark fallout from the copious violence but not shying away from it.

Scorsese might be pushing 80 but he’s still a master of this medium and here his use of de-aging many cast members with digital technology works really well in giving those sections of the film a hazy ‘idealistic’ feel.

'street violence'

The cast are truly another level with De Niro and Pacino on top form but Joe Pesci (as Russell Bufalino) and Harvey Keitel (as don Angelo Bruno) standing out but ably supported by great supporting cast that includes Anna Paquin as Sheeran’s disapproving daughter Peggy and Jack Huston as Robert ‘Bobby’ Kennedy trying to take down organized crime.

This Irishman is one of the best films of the year and shows that the old boys can sometimes still school the youngsters in the cinematic art. Well played Netflix in making this happen!

'can't touch me'

Out of a potential 5 - you have to go with a Darkmatters:

ööööö

(5 - Quality Old School Gangster-em-up)

Awesomeness ööööö – Some unforgettable scenes and compulsive viewing throughout

Laughs ööö – Some nice dark humour

Horror öööö – Graphic violence

Spiritual Enlightenment öö - What is a man's life worth?



Want some more madness? 
Check out COMPLETE DARKNESS which delivers near future nightmares...


Monday, November 25, 2019

Getting chilly with it... FROZEN 2




Frozen II (PG)

Directors: Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“I believe in you, Elsa. More than anyone or anything.”

It turns out that Disney couldn’t just ‘let it go’ and so here’s the follow up to world-conquering original freeze-em-up. Firstly though, I must thank my pals for ‘lending me’ their three daughters to come and help review this as they are far more the target market than me!?

With the huge Frozen fanbase established by the first film to please, there have been various short videos and games set in the universe, but now the gang are back together for a full-scale all singing, all life-lessoning adventure.

They're back...

Frosty Queen Elsa (Idina Menzel), her kind sister Anna (Kristen Bell), comedy sidekick snowman Olaf (Josh Gad) and hunky Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) with his trusty reindeer Sven set off to unravel a mystery involving a mysterious magical voice from beyond the ice flow.

Unfortunately, there are some nature guardian spirits – air (nicknamed ‘Gale’), fire (a cute little pyro-lizard), earth (massive scary giant baddies) and water (embodied by a cool water horse) -to appease along the way. Also a time-locked forest, complete with aggrieved indigenous tribe and a possible dark secret make up the other plot points.

Co-directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee follow the Frozen game plan keeping the first film’s magical tropes and not straying very far from the Disney safe-zone of marketable cash-in creatures and new looks for the team. Elsa in particular gets a Gandalf the Grey to White transformation and there’s much exposition, especially from Olaf about accepting change and growing up.

Drama

The new songs are a mixed bag with nothing as iconic as the original ‘Let it go’ but I really enjoyed Groff’s power ballad (with Queen like backing from the Reindeer) that could slot pretty seamlessly into any Chicago or REO Speedwagon reunion tour.

My young friends all gave the film big thumbs up, they were suitably impressed by the fun banter, mild peril and ice-powered adventuring. The only negatives they picked up on was a lack of any very identifiable baddies and the slightly confusing plot that felt a bit episodic rather than a smooth whole.

Tribute to The Mist

Everything ticks along nicely; the animation is stunning in places and solid throughout. Whilst not hugely original or quite as good as the first, Frozen II delivers an all-age friendly package which should keep many families happy. I imagine this won’t be the last we see of the icy franchise!

Live action version?

Out of a potential 5 - you have to go with a Darkmatters:

ööö

(3 - Enjoyable if disposable follow up)

Awesomeness ööö – The animation is the star 'draw'

Laughs ööö – Occasionally funny

Horror ö – Not much scary stuff or trauma

Spiritual Enlightenment öö - Heavy handed moralising ahoy



Want some more madness? 
Check out COMPLETE DARKNESS which delivers near future nightmares...


Monday, November 04, 2019

Matt visits The Forgotten Palace


The Forgotten Palace

Luke Aylen (@lukeaylen)

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@cleric20)

"Light attacks where darkness defends..."

Just when you thought it was safe in the land of Presadia - deep in the heart of the Great Forest lie many secrets, including the ancient ruins of a once-magnificent palace. A chance encounter with a bedraggled stranger and the discovery of broken shards of a magical mirror lead 'unusually tall dwarf' Antimony on a journey of discovery.

Luke Aylen’s follow up to The Mirror and The Mountain is a more assured semi-sequel (it takes place partly alongside the original). With smoother prose and more action - big baddie 'the Usurper' is a great threat. I really enjoyed this fantasy romp which whilst written for kids is strong enough to please fans of Narnia and the like of all ages.

You'll get more from this story if you've read the first book as the world of Presadia has some nice twists on the standard fantasy elements. I was reminded at points of The Hobbit (which is high praise as I'm big Tolkien fan).

The story is fun, is packed with adventure and has a much more exciting finale than the first, you can feel Aylen enjoying his creation with more confidence this time. There is plenty of magical stuff along with some good life lessons (which are less blatant allegories this time around).

I'm told that there will be more Presadia based fiction to follow and if they keep improving then there is much to look forward to! Recommended fantasy-em-up for young readers (and young at heart) everywhere.

Out of a potential 5 you have to go with a Darkmatters:

öööö

(4 - This new fantasy world is building nicely)...

BUY YOURSELF A COPY HERE


Want something a little darker?

Check out COMPLETE DARKNESS which delivers near future nightmares...



Sunday, November 03, 2019

Matt Shines with Doctor Sleep




Doctor Sleep (15)

Dir. Mike Flanagan

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“The world's a hungry place. A dark place…”

How does one follow up the masterpiece of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining? Well here with have an adaptation of Stephen King’s sequel novel which tells the tale of Danny Torrence (Ewan McGregor)’s life – he’s suffered a lifetime of post-ghost-stress-disorder thanks to his troubled childhood in the haunted Overlook Hotel.

Danny has struggled with his telepathic gift of ‘Shining’ which has allowed the dark spirits of his past to bother him. On the plus side he also gets occasional ‘Obi-Wan’ like visits from Dick Halloran (Carl Lumbly) who acts as a guide to him and who tips him off about the threat of child eating baddie ‘Rose The Hat’ (Rebecca Ferguson) – who literally feeds on those who can ‘Shine’.

"I'll swallow your soul"

Danny must battle through his drinking problem in order to help new super shiner Abra (Kyliegh Curran) who might only be a young teen but who has massive abilities – which alas has made her the target of Rose and her cult.

Doctor Sleep takes its time initially to explore the horror of Danny’s repressed trauma, and Ewan McGregor does good job as an adult Danny Torrance. But he is upstaged by Rebecca Ferguson who captivates as Rose the Hat. Director Mike Flanagan sets a great visual treat for Shining lovers everywhere, walking the tricky line between faithful interpreting the novel and mixing in the cinematic elements of Kubrick’s masterpiece.

"Overlook welcome committee"

There is plenty of gore and *trigger warning* violence against children so if not up for a trip into some real dark material this won’t be for you. It’s strong stuff and compelling too but the story comes undone a little towards the end when it takes the climax back to the Overlook itself. Here the Shining references are overloaded and yet feel a bit more like the homage in Ready Player One rather than a true sequel.

By overusing the resident of Room 237 and aping but never quite pulling off dynamics like the swooping aerial camera movement that Kubrick embraced whilst the Torrance's driving – the lesser quality of this film becomes apparent.

"Back to play with you forever"

Overall Doctor Sleep is a decent effort that can’t match the traumatizing horror of The Shining but adds to the story in a watchable way. Young Curran is one to look out for as she could be big.

The Doctor will see you now, just try not to fall asleep!

Out of a potential 5 - you have to go with a Darkmatters:

ööö

(3 - Don't Overlook this flawed but fun follow up!)

Awesomeness ööö – Psyche fights FTW

Laughs öö – A few darkly amusing bits

Horror öööö – Fairly grim stuff throughout

Spiritual Enlightenment öö - Shine Jesus Shine



Want some more madness? 
Check out COMPLETE DARKNESS which delivers near future nightmares...


Sunday, October 27, 2019

COMPLETE DARKNESS is published!!



Complete Darkness: Matt Adcock

So after what feels like forever - my debut novel 'Complete Darkness' is out in the world! It's been a fun ride to get to this point and I'm fascinated to hear what people are making of it...


"in the daunting company of Isaac Asimov & Iain M Banks"


Reviews so far have said things like:

"The deft world-building transports you to a place where the breathless violent action comes thick and fast. Complete Darkness is likely to shock in places and yet give you an incredible adrenaline rush too. If you liked sci-fi visionaries such as Iain M Banks or Richard ‘Altered Carbon’ Morgan - those are clear inspirations here.

Tackling thorny subjects like Hell - there is theology woven into the plot and adds a level of intelligence beyond standard pulp fiction. Complete Darkness is a brilliant, turbo-charged adventure for those who looking for something wild..."

- - -

"Complete Darkness is the interplay of science, market forces, and religion.... with some hilarious (as in, I snorted out loud on the bus, prompting strange looks) usage of technology and wordplay.

I think complete darkness is a creative introduction to a genuinely interesting alternate universe - with brash, comic-book levels (think Deadpool unhinged rather than Marvel) of violence."

- - -

"It's a like jumping headfirst into the choppy waters of the past, present and future of the battle between good and evil and you're not sure which way you want to swim. Big on tech, bigger on deep thoughts."

- - -

"...weaves a gripping theological thread into the story of a corrupt and depraved world designed to grab the attention of a contemporary audience weaned on superhero movies, gritty crime dramas and graphic novels."



If you've taken the plunge and got a copy of Complete Darkness do let me know what you think...

Here's the Goodreads link if you swing that way: Goodreads - Complete Darkness

Huge thanks to everyone who has helped me get to this point - who knows where we go from here!!!


Here's some handy shopping links in case you're tempted to take the plunge:

Amazon 

Waterstones

Foyles

Blackwells






Sunday, October 06, 2019

Matt puts on a Happy Face - JOKER review...


Joker (15) 

Dir. Todd Philips

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

'I hope my death makes more cents than my life...’

“Is it just me, or is it getting crazier out there?” asks ArthurFleck (Joaquin Phoenix), of his counsellor, after being attacked and beaten in the street by a gang of youths.  What follows is a heartbreaking odyssey into madness and violence that traces the birth of Gotham’s clown prince of chaos – Joker.

'and where is the Batman?'

Yes, Batman’s iconic arch-nemesis gets his big-screen origin story and it’s a cinematic gut-punch of a man on the very edge – pushed over the line by a callus and mean society.  Director Todd “The Hangover’ Phillips delves into the pain of a life shaped by abuse, of a man who society either ignores or targets and has created a superbly gritty character piece which stands as a warning to us all. Joaquin Phoenix is incredible in the lead – owning the huge clown sized shows of Heath Ledger and giving him a serious run for the title of best Joker ever’.

'evening officers'

After his show-stopping performance in the brutal ‘You Were NeverReally Here’, he is an actor who can make horrific violence feel necessary and give viewers an insight into the actions of a crazed individual in a way that no other has to date. The writing here is as brilliant as it is bleak, this isn't feel-good film on any level and it is liable to traumatise any Bat-fans looking for a standard superhero (or even villain) romp.

'future vigilante?'

Certainly, comic book villains don't come much more iconic than the Joker, he is a character that somehow transcends understanding with his charismatic insanity and casual ultra-violence. So it's a tough brief to make him the central character of the film as he is normally held up as existing solely as the flip side of Batman’s vigilante justice – but Phoenix pulls it off in fine style.

Joker the movie, however, works as a twisted masterpiece that may well tear your soul apart. Any film that can induce menace by playing Stephen Sondheim ‘Send in the Clowns’ and reference such light-hearted movies like Charlie Chaplin’s ‘Modern Times’ whilst being a chilling crime drama on a par with Taxi Driver deserves serious consideration as something much more than the standard super-flicks that have become such big business.

'go with a smile'

What we have here is the full-throttle descent of a misunderstood man who has no positive reference points. Joker is a timely instant classic, put on a happy face and see it!!


Out of a potential 5 - you have to go with a Darkmatters:


ööööö

(5 - Tragic insanity has never been more compelling)

Awesomeness ööööö – Staggering insights into a violent descent

Laughs ööö – Some very dark laughs

Horror öööö – Strong bloody violence and unsettling madness

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - Look beyond the outside smile



Want some more madness? 
Check out COMPLETE DARKNESS which delivers near future nightmares...



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