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We Went to War Review


Essential

This follow-up documentary is so low-key that some audiences might miss its significance, but what it has to say is staggeringly important. And by using such a pure form of filmmaking, recently deceased director Grigsby finds new insight into the issue of returning war veterans. What sets this film apart is that it returns to the three soldiers at the centre of 1970's landmark ITV doc I Was a Soldier, the first film to follow veterans returning from Vietnam.

That earlier film centred on three young men: David, Dennis and Lamar. Back in their rural Texas ranching town, they tried to pick up their lives where they left off. Only of course, they had changed profoundly. This film intercuts clips of the young men in 1970 with new interviews 40 years later. David still feels cut off from his previous life, although he relies on his friends to help "push the hurt away". Dennis says it took 20 years to stop having nightmares, and he rarely speaks of his experiences with his large family. And Lamar died in 2002 at age 55 of cancer brought on by exposure to Agent Orange. His widow and daughter speak about how he drank to numb his pain, even though alcohol made his flashbacks even worse.

But interviews are only a small part of the film, as much of the screen time just watches how these men live. Mixing clips from the 1970 film alongside new images and home movies, it's fascinating to see that many aspects of life are unchanged, although the town's family businesses are almost all boarded up now. And it's not just Lamar's family that felt the effects of Agent Orange. Much more interesting, and largely unprecedented on film, is the way Grigsby quietly captures the long-term impact of combat duty in these men's faces.

Continue reading: We Went to War Review

MCM Birmingham Memorabilia Comic Con

David Johnson - MCM Birmingham Memorabilia Comic Con at Birmingham NEC - Birmingham, United Kingdom - Saturday 16th March 2013

David Johnson
David Johnson

Wrath of the Titans Review


OK

While this sequel is just as loud and chaotic as 2010's Clash of the Titans remake, it's also considerably more fun due to some exhilarating action and a refreshing sense of humour. It also looks amazing in 3D on an Imax screen.

Years later, the now-widowed hero Perseus (Worthington) is trying to live as an anonymous fisherman with his pre-teen son Helius (Bell). Then he hears about stirrings of a coming calamity. Indeed, his father Zeus (Neeson) has been kidnapped by Hades (Fiennes) and Ares (Ramirez) as pat of a plan to release Zeus and Hades' evil father Kronos from the underworld. So Perseus teams up with Queen Andromeda (Pike) and rogue demigod Agenor (Kebbell), son of Poseidon (Huston), to rescue his father and stop his brother, uncle and grandfather.

Yes, this is one seriously dysfunctional family, as four generations of men set out to either destroy the world or save it. To be honest, it's never clear why Hades and Ares are so hellbent, as it were, on cataclysmic destruction, but at least this also allows for changing alliances as the story progresses. Not that there's much story, really, as the plot essentially just links a series of action set-pieces.

Fortunately, most of these sequences are entertaining enough to keep us gripped. Highlights include a rather fabulous dragon attack and a desperate, full-on fight with cyclops-giants in a forest. Less convincing are a convoluted underworld rescue-battle and the climactic assault on the volcano-sized Kronos, who rains down fire and destruction rather selectively. (There's also the problem of how the filmmakers can top Kronos in the probable sequel.)

Along the way, there are some refreshing moments of deranged humour, mainly in Kebbell's snarky dialog, Pike's sharp glances and a particularly colourful turn by Nighy (as super-spear smelter Hephaestus). But as the story progresses, there's more than a whiff of Lord of the Rings (the fires of Mount Doom, plus some pointless two-torsoed Orc-a-likes), Harry Potter (the three-pronged Deathly Hallows) and even Star Wars (all that father-son angst). But filmmaker Liebesman keeps things moving briskly, wowing us with so much eye-candy that we just sit back and enjoy the rickety ride for what it is.

Picture - Esther Stilwell, Ashley Spencer, Tony... New York City, USA, Tuesday 30th August 2011

Tony Danza, Anastacia, David Johnson and Nick Adams - Esther Stilwell, Ashley Spencer, Tony Sheldon, Tony Danza, Will Swenson, Nick Adams, Anastacia McCleskey, and C. David Johnson Tuesday 30th August 2011 at Palace Theatre New York City, USA

Picture - Tony Sheldon, Gavin Lodge, Martha... New York City, USA, Tuesday 12th July 2011

Nick Adams and David Johnson - Tony Sheldon, Gavin Lodge, Martha Wash, Nick Adams and C. David Johnson Tuesday 12th July 2011 at Palace Theatre New York City, USA

Picture - Gavin Lodge, Ellyn Marie Marsh,... New York City, USA, Tuesday 12th July 2011

Nick Adams, Anastacia and David Johnson - Gavin Lodge, Ellyn Marie Marsh, Tony Sheldon, Martha Wash, Nick Adams, Jacqueline B. Arnold, Anastacia McCleskey and C. David Johnson Tuesday 12th July 2011 at Palace Theatre New York City, USA

Picture - Nick Adams, Paul Shaffer, Will... 'It's Raining Men' composer, Paul Shaffer, visits the cast of the Broadway musical 'Priscilla, Queen of the Desert'. The song is featured in the musical at the Palace Theatre. New York City, USA, Wednesday 8th June 2011

Nick Adams and David Johnson Wednesday 8th June 2011 Nick Adams, Paul Shaffer, Will Swenson, Tony Sheldon and C. David Johnson 'It's Raining Men' composer, Paul Shaffer, visits the cast of the Broadway musical 'Priscilla, Queen of the Desert'. The song is featured in the musical at the Palace Theatre. New York City, USA

Nick Adams and David Johnson
Nick Adams and David Johnson
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