Monthly Archives: July 2009

A Week In Film #037: Overloaded

Monsters, Inc.
Rather fine Pixar/Disney animated feature about a pair of misfit monsters (Billy Crystal & John Goodman) on a quest.

The First Great Train Robbery title screen

The First Great Train Robbery
Another favourite, with Sean Connery, Donald Sutherland and Lesley Ann Warren as a team of Victorian crooks planning the ultimate heist. Michael Crichton directs this adaptation of his own book with brio, and there’s Jerry Goldsmith’s best score ever.

The Transporter title screen

The Transporter
The Stath as an ex-special forces type turned courier-for-hire who breaks his own rules and gets involved with some seriously bad people. Not cerebral, but thoroughly entertaining. The oil slick fight is superb. Co-directors Corey Yuen and Louis Leterrier keep things moving at a decent lick, and there’s engaging support from Shu Qi and François Berléand.

Alien title screen

Haunted house in space, Sigourney Weaver, xenomorph, etc. Classic stuff.

Aliens title screen

Marines in space, Sigourney Weaver, xenomorphs, etc. Classic stuff.

Alien 3 title screen

Alien 3
Convicts in space, Sigourney Weaver, xenomorphs, etc. Flawed stuff.

Alien Resurrection title screen

Alien Resurrection
Pirates in space, Sigourney Weaver, xenomorphs, etc. Fucking awful stuff. Joss Whedon bow your head in shame. I paid to see this at the picture palace, too. Not impressed.

44 Minutes: The North Hollywood Shoot-Out title screen

44 Minutes: The North Hollywood Shoot-Out
Very slick, very well made TVM about a real-life bank heist, with Michael Madsen leading a solid cast. Better than most big screen efforts.

The Rules Of Attraction title screen

The Rules Of Attraction
Roger Avery’s Bret Easton Ellis college novel adaptation, very unpleasant, very good. The dude from Dawson’s Creek is in it.

Banlieue13 title screen

Banlieue 13
Trés bon silliness set in a near future dystopia where les banlieues are used as a prison to keep les sans culottes in their place. David Belle as the ghetto idealist and Cyril Raffaelli as the cop he teams up with are a good pairing, and the action sequences show off their respective disciplines (parkour & martial arts) to the fullest effect. Pierre Morel directs with skill from Luc Besson’s paper-thin script, and it looks amazing.

Hot Fuzz
Enjoyable cop-based retread of the Simon Pegg/Edgar Wright/Nick Frost relationship, with almost too many familiar faces.

Sunshine title screen

I really liked this Danny Boyle/Alex Garland SF number, about a space mission to save the Earth, but it seems I’m in a minority. I like the way it slowly unfolds, I like the tension, I like the unlikeableness of many of the characters, I like the sound design and the visual structure, I like the cast.

The Dark Crystal
Very disappointing Muppet-based sword-and-sorcery nonsense. Nowhere near Labyrinth in quality.

Layer Cake
Matthew Vaughn handles his material with confidence first time out the traps as a director in an adaptation of a novel about a nameless coke dealer and the scrapes he gets into. From this he somehow manages to make a well-polished and engaging little picture in which older character actors are given a chance to shine – Colm Meaney, Kenneth Cranham, George Harris, Michael Gambon. Oh, and it’s blatantly Daniel Craig’s 007 calling card.

The Killer Elite
Dull, uninspiring lesser Peckinpah, with James Caan and Robert Duvall as a pair of US proxy spooks who end up on opposite sides. There’s no energy in it, and the fight scenes are amongst the worst I’ve ever seen. An interesting premise wasted.

Heat title screen

Michael Mann does cops and robbers in LA with Pacino and De Niro, and Andy McNab choreographing the mesmerising post-heist shoot-out.

Serpico title screen

Al Pacino as the cop who wouldn’t be bought, but could be shot. One of Sidney Lumet’s best pictures, and Pacino’s too, and with no happy ending. A classic New York film.

Nid De Guêpes title screen

Nid De Guêpes
Florent Emilio Siri takes Assault On Precinct 13 as his starting point and turns in a film far more stylish than anything Hollywood has produced in a long time. Four groups collide on an industrial estate outside Strasbourg on Bastille Day – a gang of burglars, a group of security guards, a multinational anti-terrorist team, and a massive and heavily armed band of Albanian bandits. If you’ve not seen it, and you like action pictures, seek it out. A strong cast includes Samy Naceri, Benoît Magimel, Nadia Farès, Pascal Greggory, Sami Bouajila, Anisia Uzeyman, Richard Sammel, Valerio Mastandrea and Martial Odone.

Porky's Revenge title screen

Porky’s Revenge
Third film in a franchise that lasted at least two films beyond its natural life. I have nothing of note to say, a bit like the film itself.

Thunderheart title screen

Michael Apted directs Val Kilmer in a barely-fictionalised account of the US war with modern American Indian society, based on the Pine Ridge siege. Think of it as a superior version of Mississippi Burning, in which the FBI aren’t whitewashed into heroes.

A Week In Film #036: Underweight

Class title screen

Andrew McCarthy and Rob Lowe are friends from different ends of the social spectrum in this Brat Pack retread of The Graduate played against the backdrop of a poncey private school, with Jacqueline Bisset as a bored WASP MILF. Nothing of note.

The Day After title screen

The Day After
American when-the-bomb-drops pre/post-apocalyptic TVM, not exactly Threads or The War Game, but it’s alright.

The Fix title screen

The Fix
Tight little TVM about the 1964 betting scandal which saw a number of professional footballers disgraced, efficiently directed by a pre-Hollywood Paul Greengrass, with effective performances from Jason Isaacs and Steve Coogan.

The Knowledge title screen

The Knowledge
Sweet little TVM about a group of misfits studying to become London cabbies, written by Jack Rosenthal, with Mick Ford, Kim Taylforth (sister of Gillian) and Nigel Hawthorne most notable.

A Week In Film #035: A huge shit sandwich

The Big Sleep title screen

The Big Sleep
Bogart, Bacall, an impenetrable plot, the world’s foxiest book seller, dialogue so fast it’s like watching a whirlwind tear across the screen. Stone cold classic.

Porky's title screen

Not a stone cold classic, but funny in a vacant-headed kind of way, if you try not to think too deeply about the rather unsavoury story.

Party Monster title screen

Party Monster
Macaulay Culkin tries to reposition himself post-Home Alone by playing the unpleasant, troubled, drug-addled, murderous New York party promoter and one-man Leopold & Loeb, Michael Alig.

Porky's II title screen

Porky’s II: The Next Day
A sequel which bears almost no relation to the first film. There’s some sub-Footloose angle about uptight town elders opposing a Shakespeare festival at the high school because it’s all so lewd.

Rear Window title screen

Rear Window
The LLF wanted to try out some Hitchcock, so I wheeled this out. Love the James Stewart/Grace Kelly/Thelma Ritter three-way, love the dress, love the stagey apartment block set (and yet so filmic), love the burst of heat when the flash bulbs pop off.

36 Quai Des Orfèvres title screen

36 Quai Des Orfèvres
A decent hardboiled policier about the struggle between two French cops – Daniel Auteil and Gerard Depardieu – each running their own anti-blagging teams in Paris. Sort of like Heat but with no focus on the robber.

A Week In Film #034: There’s a reason why some of these films haven’t been heard of

R-Point title screen

I was hoping for more, but it didn’t deliver. Sort of a supernatural South Korean take on Apocalypse Now.

Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist title screen

Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist
Very enjoyable, sweet little comedy about two youngsters (Michael Cera and Kat Dennings) finding friendship, and maybe love, over music.

Johnny Be Good title screen

Johnny Be Good
Silly teen movie about a high school football star (Anthony Michael Hall) being feted by various colleges.

Uma Thurman appears in an early role as his girlfriend, Robert Downey Jnr is his best friend. Hall’s former Breakfast Club nemesis Paul Gleason amuses as his school coach, whilst Jennifer Tilly in turn brightens things up as his ditzy wife.

About Last Night title screen

About Last Night
Dull ‘adult relationship’ job, with all the usual perspectives thrown around with great abandon, peppered with naughty words because we’re all hip yuppies or whatnot (hey, this was the 80s).

Rob Lowe and Demi Moore seem well suited as the on/off couple at the centre of things, but maybe that’s because you let out a sigh of relief now you know they can’t be inflicted on anyone else. Jim Belushi is mildly diverting as Lowe’s boorish best friend. Apparently it’s based on the David Mamet play Sexual Perversity In Chicago – I would aver that it is a rather watered down version.