Bruno Ganz as a somewhat manic depressive megalomaniac, whilst around him director Oliver Hirschbiegel marshals many of his Das Experiment alumni to good effect.
Gangs Of New York
Scorsese loses it with this rather dull period piece – all bang and no buck. Some spectacular set pieces, but very little feeling.
Banlieue 13 Ultimatum
Luc Besson’s drive to turn the French film industry into a serious threat to Hollywood continues apace, with his passing on of the director’s hat from Pierre Morel to Patrick Alessandrin, who ramps up the action even more than in the first film. Because we know who Leito (David Belle) and Damien (Cyril Raffaelli) are, we’re pretty much straight into the (wafer-thin) plot, about five different gangs trying to step up to pole position, whilst rogue spooks do rogue spook things in the background.
The Escapist (2008)
A bit of a treat, this – like Stander I came across this by chance on ITV4 and was very pleasantly surprised. A standard prison escape trope is subverted and upturned and played about with by director Robert Wyatt, who shows thoughtfulness and skill. Brian Cox leads a decent cast (Joseph Fiennes, Seu Jorge, Steven Mackintosh, Liam Cunningham, Damian Lewis, Dominic Cooper) as lifer Frank Perry, and whilst clever (not tricksy) editing is used to good effect in unfolding the non-linear narrative, it feels like it’s being laid out like this not for the cheap thrill of a twist ending, but instead to underline the tragedy. Recommended.
Fucking horrible, horrendous stuff; bunch of dicks (Travolta, Mar’n Law’nce, Tim Allen and, oh William, William H Macy what were you thinking?) suffereing different degrees of midlife crisis go on a Harley Davidson road trip, do stupid stuff, Learn Important Lessons, etc. Totally competent.
The Dark Knight
Saw this at the cinema, but turns out me and the LLF didn’t just miss a few seconds at the beginning (we’d been pigging out on Turkish before we got to there), but pretty much the whole first scene. A first scene which is ruddy awesome – so awesome it disposes of William Fichtner like a used tissue after a particularly meaningless wank; that’s how awesome.
Anyway, a much tighter film than Batman Begins, with a good strong backbone, though the last half hour drags with the whole Harvey-Dent-becoming-Two-Face thing, and the worst child actor I’ve seen in a long time ruining the pathos. Heath Ledger really was a great Joker. The IMAX scenes really did work. I’m really surprised I liked it as much as I did. Really. And I don’t normally go for films edited like trailers (see: The Departed). Nor film scores by Hans Zimmer (but here his music does work well).
Beverly Hills Cop
The first, the best, the classic – wisecracking Detroit cop (Who Does Things His Way) relocates to upscale part of LA to find out why his friend was killed; ruffles local feathers; honks like a comedy goose; kicks some ass. Eddie Murphy is Axel Foley in even more ways than you know Sly Stallone is most definitely not, and that’s a lot.
Martin Brest’s best (Midnight Run being his only other actually really decent film); John Ashton, Judge Reinhold and Ronny Cox are a lovely supporting trio as the local fuzz; Bronson Pinchot is memorable as gallery worker Serge, Lisa Eilbacher less so as love interest Jenny. Oh, and it’s got Stephen FUCKING Berkoff as the villain!
Beverly Hills Cop II
The law of diminishing returns – crap story about a heist gang led by Jürgen Prochnow, Brigitte Nielsen and Dean Stockwell (sorry Ziggy), Ronny Cox gets shot, Axel comes to investigate, Tony Scott directs in CocaVision, all a bit flashy and less fun than first time around.
Back To The Future
Saw this at the cinema when it came out, and it remains as good now as it was then. Michael J Fox, Christopher Lloyd, a time travelling DeLorean, “Great Scott!!!”, 50s period stuff, a truckful of shit, skateboard, “Are you in the Navy?”, Oedipal shenanigans, Marvin Berry – stone cold classic, and witty with it.
Beverly Hills Cop III
Now I know this one gets a poor rep, and director John Landis himself wasn’t a great fan of it, but I think this one is easily better than the second. In tone it’s a bit more mature, a bit more considered – Axel’s older, after all – and the action sequences seem pitched deliberately differently to the ones in the original.
Plotwise: Axel’s boss is killed; the trail leads to an amusement park in LA, where he hooks up with Reinhold and Hector Elizondo (whose character is a replacement for Ashton’s). Chaos/destruction/hilarity ensues. The spider ride rescue is a great piece of stunt work and editing. It worked for me when I saw it at the picture palace in Aldeburgh back when it came out, it works for me now.