Monthly Archives: January 2011

A Week In Film #116: Solids

Vertigo
Thoroughly efficient Hitchcock, with great visual effects, and the reveal nudged way up the running order in order to wrench extra surprises right at the end. Sterling work.

You, Me And Dupree
Terrible reviews, but it makes I laugh – Owen Wilson slacking it, Matt Dillon at his most constipated, Kate Hudson making up the numbers.

Kelly’s Heroes
Well, you can’t turn it down if it’s up there on the screen whilst the gogglebox is on.

The Matrix
Never actually seen it – well, not in its entirety – and whilst it’s not really my kind of thing, it was decent enough, if not as good as Inception, Equilibrium or Dark City.

Rush
Years since I first saw it, but it stands up: young police recruit Jennifer Jason Leigh is recruited to be veteran undercover cop Jason Patric’s partner in mid-seventies smalltown Texas; hilarity ensues. Well, obviously it doesn’t, but it is fairly gripping stuff, based on the novel by Kim Wozencroft, who was a narc in similar circumstances, and who served gaol time for some of what she got up to. Pretty good stuff from one-time movie director Lili Fini Zanuck.

Advertisements

A Week In Film #115: Pubic domain

The Great St Louis Bank Robbery
Plodding, and not with great acting (for the most part) or memorable dialogue, but notable for its imaginative mise-en-scène. We’re talking about a noirish heist flick from 1959, based on a real bank robbery, and with a young Steve McQueen methoding up an early lead role as a fresh-faced college kid caught up in naughtiness but soon out of his depth. Directed by documentarian Charles Guggenheim, so lots of vérité camerawork.

A Week In Film #114: Working the backlog

The Notorious Bettie Page
Slightly unsatisfactory but still enjoyable biopic of the 50s fetish/cheesecake model by Mary Harron. Gretchen Mol is likeable as the naïve but adventurous Bettie. Lili Taylor and Jared Harris both have memorable turns.

The Last Castle
Overblown, silly pre-9/11 (but no less flagwanky for it) military prison nonsense, with lantern-jawed Special Forces hero/demi-god Robert Redford (FFS) giving lesser, more deviant GI Joes a lesson in teamwork/self-respect/something after getting sent down for something or other and ending up in a barbaric brig run by deskjockey James Gandolfini. Meaningless piffle, directed by Rod Lurie.

The Terminator
Time-travelling killer robot! Michael Biehn looking kick-ass! Depressing future apocalypse! Third best police station attack ever in film!

Kansas City Confidential
Noir crime drama with wrongly accused ex-con John Payne chasing after the mask-wearing crooks who held up an armoured car leaving him with the blame. Efficient, though a little flabby in the second act (and for the most part it’s set in Mexico not KC).

Extreme Prejudice
Nick Nolte as hard-as-nails Texas Ranger, Powers Boothe as his best mate-turned Mex-Tex drugs kingpin, Michael Ironside as the leader of a secret, deniable Army unit; Maria Conchita Alonso is the solitary woman intruding upon this high testosterone ménage a trios.

Typical Walter Hill – sleek, energetic, with great craft, just very little plausibility or audience investment. Seems to have inspired the likes of Predator, Die Hard 2, The Losers etc. Some great work from various character actors (Clancy Brown, William Forsythe, Matt Mulhern, Larry B Scott, Dan Tullis Jnr as the soldiers, Rip Torn as Nolte’s Sheriff buddy).

A Week In Film #113: Something old, something new

Aliens
Can you go wrong with Jim Cameron’s up-to-eleven grunts-in-space extension to Ridley Scott’s own extraplanetary haunted house classic? Reckon not.

A solid cast of characters, a pretty believable future universe (with internal logic, dagnammit!), great in-camera effects, beautiful lighting, precise editing and a damn fine feel for pacing marks this out as JC’s finest. Almost too memorable for its own good.

Un Prophète
Directed by Jacques Audiard, who also wrote that early 80s satire on post-colonial French international policy starring Jean-Paul Belmondo, Le Professionnel. I didn’t realise that when I watched this, though – all I knew was that it was set in a French prison.

It blew me away, up there with A Sense Of Freedom and The Escapist as gaolhouse flicks that really work hard to go beyond the clichés, to really say something interesting about the nature of confinement, of life. (I think I saw it trailed somewhere as ‘the French Scarface meets The Godfather‘, which is about as ridiculous as these interminable ‘A-meets-B’ film précis can get.)

It’s definitely a film where the less you know about the plot or the characters going in, the better. Just let it unfold naturally, because it is beautifully built. Some excellent acting, especially Tahar Rahim as a young, new convict, Nils Arestrup as an older Corsican gang boss inmate, and Abdel Bencharif as Ryad and Hitchem Yacoubi as Reyeb.

A Week In Film #112: 2011 – A Speyed Odyssey

Mission To Mars
Astronauts head to the Red Planet, yadda, yadda, yadda.

As ever with a Brian De Palma film I check with the excellent film blogger and #1 BDP fan Scott Terek to see what he says about it over on CdM; imagine my surprise when I learn that he too thinks it’s a crappy movie.

It’s no 2001, no Sunshine, no Close Encounters, and not even a Contact.