A Week In Film #526: In ’n’ Out

[Gangs Of New York title screen]
Gangs Of New York
Scorsese’s misfiring would-be historical epic, which never assumes the scale it needs.

[The Lady Vanishes (2013) title screen]
The Lady Vanishes (2013)
Pretty decent Beeb take on the interwar train-bound potboiler The Wheel Spins, which Hitchcock adapted as his last pre-Hollywood movie. Tuppence Middleton makes an excellent petulant, chauvinistic English flapper caught adrift in a Mitteleuropan conspiracy. Good support from Tom Hughes, Keeley Hawes, Julian Rhind-Tutt et al.

[Escape To Victory title screen]
Escape To Victory
Hardly John Huston’s best, no one’s buying Sly as a goalie, and Michael Caine does not look convincing as a former West Ham player-turned-PoW, but still it’s enjoyable. Poor old Tony Lewis, though. VICTOIRE!

[A Quiet Place title screen]
A Quiet Place
Strong stuff from writer-director-actor John Krasinski – a near future post-apocalypse horror, set in a massively depopulated world where super fast, incredibly sound-sensitive monsters wreak havoc on humanity. Krasinski, real life wife Emily Blunt and child actors Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe all put in impressive work. Some genuine jumps and chills, all without being a gorfest.

[Se7en title screen]
Se7en
Fincher-Nine Inch Nails-“Farkin’ pigs, man”-plastic shavings-rain-cardboard box.

[The Goonies title screen]
The Goonies
One of those I’m-sure-I-remember-it-being-better movies from the 80s, and sure, it sags somewhat once we’re into the caverns, but still got charm.

[Arthur Christmas title screen]
Arthur Christmas
Better than I expected it would be, an Aardman/American co-production, with three generations of Father Christmas pulling in different directions (traditional vs futuristic, kid-focused vs overall accomplishment). Pretty funny, with voices supplied by Bill Nighy, Jim Broadbent and James McAvoy.

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A Week In Film #524: 1/3

[Blade Runner 2049 title screen]
Blade Runner 2049
Less than impressed by this uncalled for sequel; can’t really fault Ryan Gosling in the lead, or Denis Villeneuve’s direction – but there’s no story there, and it adds nothing of depth or bite to the original.

[Rogue One title screen]
Rogue One
Gareth Edwards’ Seven Samurai-but-darker Star Wars sidequel, which succeeds in dirtying up the world, and sets things up for A New Hope perfectly. Great cast – Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Mads Mikkelsen, Donnie Yen, Jiang Wen, Forest Whitaker, Ben Mendelsohn as the main baddie – and impressively grim ending.

[Runaway Jury title screen]
Runaway Jury
Another enjoyable Grisham adaptation, this time helmed by Gary Fleder, whose not-exactly-exemplary CV includes Kiss The Girls. This time we’re focusing on thirtysomething gadabout John Cusack seemingly attempting to evade jury service in New Orleans as a case against a gun manufacturer implicated in a massacre cranks up. Absolute hogwash but entertaining. With Rachel Weisz, Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman, Jeremy Piven and Bruce McGill.

A Week In Film #523:CAKE AND KAZOOS

[The Rainmaker title screen]
The Rainmaker
Coppola vs Grisham, with young working class lawyer Matt Damon teaming up with ambulance-chasing ex-insurance investigator Danny De Vito to take on The Man – a big, bad insurance company represented by a hotshot Memphis law firm led by Jon Voight. Solid, soapy court room stuff, with slightly distracting side-plot involving domestic violence survivor Claire Danes.

[22 July title screen]
22 July
Paul Greengrass attempts to revisit the docudrama-like success of United 93 on the horrendous child-killing mass murder of right wing Norwegian fruit loop Anders Breivik. It’s a powerful story, but a less powerful film, one which doesn’t square the ‘realism’ with the standard movie tropes it employs. Plus the spell of ‘realism’ is somewhat undermined by a cast of Norwegian actors speaking in English.

[Den Of Thieves title screen]
Den Of Thieves
Pretty darn good heist movie from first-timer Christian Gudegast. Whilst there’s little truly original here – plenty of familiar nuggets from Heat and The Usual Suspects, for instance – it is accomplished and polished. There are good performances from the likes of Gerard Butler as the leader of a team of bent LA Sheriff’s Department cops, and Pablo Schreiber as his criminal counterpart, the brains behind the ex-military crew taking down big scores, as well as O’Shea Jackson, Curtis Jackson and Cooper Andrews. Some excellent robbery scenes, and a nice satisfying (if pat) switcheroo twist.

[We’re The Millers title screen]
We’re The Millers
Watchable if insubstantial comedy from DodgeBall’s Rawson Marshall Thurber. Smalltime weed dealer Jason Sudeikis recruits virginal neighbour Will Poulter, cynical stripper Jennifer Aniston and sassy street kid Emma Roberts to pretend to be his suburban family so he can smuggle an RV full of cheeba back from Mexico. Hilarity, or something vaguely approximating that, ensues. With Ed Helms as the douchey white collar kingpin on whose behalf the ‘Millers’ are working, Nick Offerman and Kathryn Hahn as a whitebread couple they meet along the way.

[Tarnished Heroes title screen]
Tarnished Heroes
Lo-fi, low budget British war movie about a small band of military convicts given the chance to atone for their crimes by going on a suicide mission behind enemy lines – sort of a less entertaining dry run for The Dirty Dozen. Never heard of director Ernest Morris before, and the only familiar face from the cast was Anton Rodgers.

Very little to recommend here – hackneyed characters (alcoholic Irish buffoon etc), terrible action, clichés all over the shop – other than prefiguring Aldrich’s classic.

[Outlaw King title screen]
Outlaw King
Easy-on-the-eye Robert the Bruce biopic from David Mackenzie, with his Hell Or High Water star Chris Pine in the lead. Aaron Taylor-Johnson has fun as ally James Douglas.

[The Shallows title screen]
The Shallows
Impressive low budget shark attack horror/thriller, with Blake Lively as a surf-mad med school dropout chilling on her tod on a Mexican beach as she grieves her dead mother. Things swiftly go all Jaws. Some decent work from Lively, and director Jaume Collet-Serra, normally seen pointing cameras at an apeshit Liam Neeson.

[Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa title screen]
Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa
Superb, world-expanding shizzle! Obvs best ever use of ‘Cuddly Toy’ in a motion picture.

A Week In Film #515: Rewind

[Jarhead title screen]
Jarhead
Sam Mendes’ pretty damn decent, almost elegiac, adaptation of Anthony Swafford’s memoir of being a soldier in a crap war. Jake Gyllenhaal is great, Peter Sarsgaard perhaps even better.

[The Wolf Of Wall Street title screen]
The Wolf Of Wall Street
Scorsese, DiCaprio and Hill turn it up to eleven on boiler room bandit Jordan Belfort. At once tasteless and fun.

A Week In Film #514: Weather with you

[Ride Along title screen]
Ride Along
Very mediocre (at best) comedy, with flaky security guard Kevin Hart trying to impress surly would-be father-in-law (and veteran cop) Ice Cube. All the cliches you’d expect to be in there are there. Unexceptional and bland stuff from Tim Story.

[The Purge: Election Year title screen]
The Purge: Election Year
James DeMonaco extends his dystopian vision of modern America with a somewhat more hopeful addition to the franchise; definitely not as good as the original, but not without interest. Frank Grillo makes a decent enough hardboiled everyman protagonist, now a security dude for anti-Purge politician Elizabeth Mitchell, though the most interesting strands involve ground level, neighbourhood types like bodega owner Mykelti Williamson and ambulance jockey Betty Gabriel.

[De Palma title screen]
De Palma
Interesting, straightforward, chronological doc by Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow, with plenty of insight from BdP.

A Week In Film #513: Mussels

[Jack Reacher: Never Go Back title screen]
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back
Pretty crap, mediocre sequel with Diddy Cruise as Lee Childs’ ex-Army cop turned zen drifter-warrior monk type dude, now caught up in a dull conspiracy involving bent soldiers and military contractors and there’s a woman officer who’s framed and and and zzzz…

[13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers Of Benghazi title screen]
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers Of Benghazi
I cannot work out why I keep going back to this. It’s such gung ho nonsense and yet very watchable.

A Week In Film #512: Chute

[The Package title screen]
The Package
Not great, not terrible post-Superbad millennial American Pie-style teen comedy, about some friends who go camping, a dick that gets cut off, and their attempts to retrieve and reattach said dick. Directed by Jake Szymanski and featuring a bunch of people I’ve never seen before: Daniel Doheny, Geraldine Viswanathan, Sadie Calvano, Luke Spencer, Eduardo Franco, Sugar Lyn Beard, Michael Eklund etc.

[Lone Survivor title screen]
Lone Survivor
Peter Berg and Mark Mark and their Yankee Doodle Dandy Does Bravo Two Zero.

[Ella Enchanted title screen]
Ella Enchanted
Non-realistic (well, obviously) interpretation of Cinderella, with Anne Hathaway in the lead, Hugh Danny as the prince, Cary Elwes his evil uncle, Minnie Driver and Vivica A Fox as fairies, Joanna Lumley the wicked stepmother, Lucy Punch and Jennifer Higham the mean stepsisters, and so on. Decent enough from director Tommy O’Haver.

[Mechanic: Resurrection title screen]
Mechanic: Resurrection
Not exactly terrible sequel – the ridiculous plot is proper silly B-movie, penny dreadful or yellow press territory, but sort of enjoyable. The State is back as accident-man-for-hire Arthur Bishop, now being blackmailed into offing targets for some super villain played by, err, the son of that bloke from London’s Burning. Directed with some nice set pieces by German director Dennis Hansel, who did Die Welle.