Monthly Archives: February 2011

A Week In Film #120: Cruise control

James And The Giant Peach
Very enjoyable stop motion/live action adaptation of Roald Dahl’s tale of a boy who escapes his tyrannous aunts aboard a large fruit with the company of talking bugs (and a worm). Beautifully put together, loved it when I saw it in the cinema, love it now.

The Untouchables
Brian De Palma does Prohibition – some bravura scenes (overhead opener, cavalry charge on the Canadian border, the assassination attempt on Sean Connery, the Odessa Steps in Union Street Station, De Niro’s baseball bat-assisted pep talk, Nitti cornered on the roof), solid David Mamet scripting, brash performances. Overall thoroughly watchable, if very silly and unhistorical. I mean, dammit, it has Connery doing an Oirish accent, Andy Godfather III Garcia hamming it up (again) as Italian-American, and Kevin Costner as the lead.

North By Northwest
Hitchcock’s perfect thriller – SEX SEX SEX!

A Week In Film #119: Fire in the belly

What Doesn’t Kill You
Directorial debut from character actor Brian Goodman, and it’s a semi-autobiographical flick about lower tier Boston Irish mobsters Ethan Hawke and Mark Ruffalo. Pretty good stuff, nothing too flashy or moralistic.

Midnight Run
One of my favourite 1980s action comedies, with Robert De Niro playing against type as a divorced, dyspeptic bounty hunter trying to bring in crooked bookkeeper Charles Grodin under the noses of both the Mob and the Feds. Fun, with a great core duo.

Underbelly Files: Tell Them Lucifer Was Here
The first series was great, the second less so, the third so-so; and now there are three feature-length, self-contained TV movies, this being the first. Unfortunately, whereas the series are about long character-based story arcs, in comparison a ninety minute film just doesn’t have time to get to grips with much of anything. Basically it’s just a police procedural – in this case about the 1998 killing of Victorian cops Gary Silk and Rod Miller – and not a particularly engaging one.

Inside Story: Dogs Of War
Old fashioned documentary looking at the foreign volunteers fighting for the Croatian side during the Yugoslav Civil War.

Travels With My Camera: Dying For The Truth
Journalist John Sweeney investigates the death of photographer Paul Jenks, who was covering the Yugoslav Civil War when he died in suspicious circumstance near Osijek in Slavonia, where a right-wing Croatian paramilitary group was sponsoring a group of international volunteers with assistance from a pan-European fascist network.

A Week In Film #118: Hit the North

Terminator 2: Judgement Day
Quite good in that we get to see Linda Hamilton as a badassed Sarah Conner, manning the fuck up; quite bad in that we have Edward Furlong as a ten year old John Connor, screeching in a manner which is harmful to the hearing of dogs. The stuff with Cyberdyne and Miles Dyson are interesting; the set-pieces are competently staged but mostly a distraction. At least there are moments of slowness and contemplation (of sorts) too, and not just one unrelenting chase scene leavened with badly drawn exposition and hammily-delivered dialogue (Arnie notwithstanding).

Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines
Sorry, did someone ask for a film that is just one unrelenting chase scene leavened with badly drawn exposition and hammily-delivered dialogue? Well, dinner is served!

A stinker, with nothing good going for it, except it no doubt kept the roof over the heads of hundreds, if not thousands, of blue-collar workers in the movie business, none of whom should share in the blame for this shit-flavoured, turkey-shaped lump of blockbuster, because a job is just a job. And this is one hell of a job.

Terminator Salvation
Christian Bale as future John Connor, leading the human resistance to Skynet and its legions of Terminators. Directed by McG, so flashy and emotionally empty, but an improvement on T3.

A Week In Film #117: A trio of trapped

Big screen version of Clement & Le Frenais’ prison-set vehicle for Ronnie Barker, which works rather well (and considerably better than many other 70s sitcom-based movies, perhaps only dramatically equaled by the first Steptoe And Son film). Fletch and Godber get dragged unwillingly into an escape plan; Christopher Godwin plays uptight new screw Beale.

Employee Of The Month (2006)
One of those fratpack-type comedies that proliferate these days, this time a vehicle for stand-up comic Dane Cook as a slacker working in a discount superstore who pulls his socks up to impress hot new co-worker Jessica Simpson. Hilarious sexist/racist high-jinks ensue.

Much less funny than it thinks it is, though Dax Shepard is great. Dodgeball covered similar thematic and stylistic ground, but avoided being too bad by having a little charm and warmth. Plenty of Owen Wilson flicks manage the same, by virtue of Owen Wilson seeming like a really nice sort of chap; whereas Dane Cook, on screen and in real life, comes across as an arsehole with a sense of entitlement (plus he’s a joke thief).

Falling Down
Obviously, this being a Joel Schumacher film, what could be a quite interesting look at the pressures of modern life soon collapses into a blancmange of pointless set-pieces, bad dialogue, a rich white male Hollywood player’s anti-working class and racist prejudices dressed up as satire, and poor artistic choices.