Monthly Archives: April 2009

A Week In Film #024: Early summer sun, late spring showers, still silent policemen

Damien: Omen II title screen

Damien: Omen II
Haven’t seen this since the original trilogy was shown late night on ITV in about 1990. By now our devil child is enrolled in military academy alongside his cousin. It’s all about puberty, ‘I don’t understand what’s happening to me’ and shit. Some good scenes (one shamelessly stolen from The Birds, another is familiar to viewers of The Dead Zone) and a creepy teen Damien. Lance Henriksen does a good (actually, make that bad) turn as a platoon sergeant.

Omen III: The Final Conflict title screen

Omen III: The Final Conflict
By now our antihero is a suave and handsome businessman, completely self-aware and ready to fuck shit up. Sam Neill is deliciously satanic. Mostly it’s all a bit hammy, though.

True Colors title screen

True Colors
John Cusack and James Spader as chalk-and-cheese best buds from college from opposite ends of the social spectrum whose lives diverge, morally and professionally. Dark, but could have been darker. The class prejudices are very distasteful.

A Week In Film #023: G20 investigations, sunshine and redecorating

The Last Boy Scout title screen

The Last Boy Scout
Shane Black scripts, Tony Scott directs, Bruce WIllis and Damon Wayans star. Better than I imagined. Something to do with corrupt politicians and American football and private detectives and stuff. Some nice deadpan actioner bons mots.

The Long Kiss Goodnight title screen

The Long Kiss Goodnight
Shane Black scripts, Renny Harlin directs, Geena Davis and Sam L Jackson star. Better than I remembered (I saw it at the Odeon when it came out). Something to do with an amnesiac government assassin, before Bourne made it sexy. Geena Davis is most enjoyable as a prim suburban housewife/teacher, and as a foxy stonecold killer. The ending is a bit meh, but everything getting us there is fun.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang title screen

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Shane Black scripts and directs, Robert Downey Jnr and Val Kilmer star. Just better all round. Something to do with a minor crook somehow ending up in Hollywood as a possible leading man in a new blockbuster by way of mistaken identity, and teaming up with a private detective as bodies start piling up. Good, old-fashioned hokey stuff.

Cloverfield title screen

Handycam, destruction of New York, scary stuff, produced by JJ Lost Abrams, cast full of nobody you’ve heard of; I thought it was great, the LLF not so.

Bongwater title screen

Early Frat Packer, with Luke Wilson as amiable weed dealer in destructive relationship with Alicia Witt. Jack Black, Andy Dick and Jamie Kennedy are all in there too.

A Week In Film #022: Backed up on G20 investigations

The Omen (2006) title screen

The Omen (2006)
Pointless and rubbish remake. Julia Stiles is even more ineffectual than in the Bourne flicks. Pete Postlethwaite and David Thewlis do their best to impersonate Patrick Troughton and David Warner. The sequences are mostly inferior carbon copies of the originals, though the reporter’s demise in Jerusalem is riffed upon in a moderately interesting way. Note: Prague does not look like London.

Blood Simple title screen

Blood Simple
The Coen Brothers’ first feature, a natty little neo noir. Some great touches – the slimy private dick (M Emmet Walsh) and his Beetle, John Getz’s rubbish Ray, Dan Hedaya as pathetic cuckold Marty, and of course Frances McDormand as Abby, a femme fatale of sorts. The ending is wonderful. Works well with the likes of Red Rock West, The Hot Spot and The Last Seduction.

The Front Page title screen

The Front Page
Rather lacklustre adaptation of the Hecht/MacArthur commemoration of the bawdy world of newspapermen in Roaring Twenties Chicago. Given that it revolves around Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, and is directed by Billy Wilder, that’s a shame. There’s some really unpleasant moments of misogyny and racism in there too, which the far superior His Girl Friday (the 1940 Cary Grant/Rosalind Russell one) managed to avoid despite being much closer to the source in time.

Daredevil title screen

Ben Affleck as a blind Marvel universe superhero; Jennifer Garner is Elektra, Colin Farrell Bullseye. Not great, but okay.

Zoolander title screen

Ben Stiller as a vacuous model recruited Manchurian Candidate-style to assassinate the Malaysian prime minister. Fairly entertaining Frat Pack stuff, with Owen Wilson as his rival-turned-ally.

Bad Influence title screen

Bad Influence
One of the more interesting films from that yuppie terror cycle (cf Pacific Heights), with weedy Michael (James Spader) coming under the influence of self-assured and dangerously confident Alex (Rob Lowe). So far so bland; but midway there’s something of a twist, and the tone and pace changes rather effectively. Lisa Zane is most alluring as Claire, a woman Michael falls for, and Christian Clemenson is convincingly flakey as Michael’s stoner brother. An early effort from director Curtis LA Confidential Hanson.

Cruising title screen

William Friedkin directs Al Pacino in a story about a cop undercover in the pre-Aids BDSM scene in New York’s Meatpacking district. Frankly that sounds awesome on the page. Sadly it’s a balled-up-sock-down-the-trousers of a movie. Pacino pretty much does Serpico in a leather jacket. It’s interesting, just not very exciting. I’m sure I remembered it as being better.

The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three title screen

The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three
More New York, this time underground on the subway, with menacing mercenary Robert Shaw commanding a group of colour-coded hijackers holding a trainful of passengers to ransom. Walter Matthau as a transit cop, Martin Balsam a renegade train driver, Hector Elizondo a psychopathic ex-mafioso, Earl Hindman a making-up-the-numbers fourth man.

A Week In Film #021: G20 riot vans & un décès

The Take title screen (2008)

The Take (2007)

Rather well executed (if ponderous) story of a security guard (John Leguizamo) robbed, shot and suspected of being an inside man.

Shooting Fish title screen

Shooting Fish

This was what the British film industry looked like in 1997. I see that the (American) lead, Dan Futterman, later wrote the Capote screenplay.

Wanted title screen


Bloody awful comic book adaptation with Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman paying the rent, and James McEvoy trying to break into Hollywood. It’s about weavers, and assassins, and, erm, stuff. Seems to have completely lost sight of what Mark Millar’s original was trying to say. The bullet bending stuff is nowhere as good as Equilibrium‘s Gun Kata.

Let's Go To Prison title screen

Let’s Go To Prison

Satisfyingly dark comedy about the American prison system, with Dax Shepard as John Lyshitski, a recidivist with attitude, and Will Arnett as Nelson Biederman IV, the son of his recently deceased arch-nemesis Judge Nelosn Biederman III.

The Omen title screen (1976)

The Omen

Gregory Peck, Billie Whitelaw, Lee Remick, Patrick Troughton and David Warner all taking their hocks up to eleven in the cause of a great schlocky horror about the antichrist. Three of the most memorable deaths in my film watching life, as well as a genuinely scary safari park moment, an unsurpassed stunt fall – with the lead actress’s face in shot!, the Waldorf salad chap from Fawlty Towers, and an unsettling ending.