Monthly Archives: November 2011

A Week In Film #158: Painful

Alexander Revisited: The Final Cut
Frankly unwatchable toga soap about Macedonian general-king Alexander the Great, with Oliver Stone twisting the ‘epic’ knob so far up that all you get is feedback drowning out what could have been a compelling historical drama.

Colin Farrell is kind of okay, there are some impressively staged battle scenes, and the bits trying to illustrate Alexander’s tactics are better than many similar film sequences, but overall it’s just unconvincing, dull, overblown.

Ted Bundy
On the other hand, Ted Bundy by Matthew Bright (who did the sparky, modern-day take on ‘Little Red Riding Hood’, Freeway) delivers a top little real life serial killer biopic for a fraction of Stone’s budget.

Following the facts of the case pretty accurately, Bright and his lead actor Michael Reilly Burke excel at conveying Bundy’s narcissism and brittle charisma. The brutality is not shied away from, though it is leavened by some particularly dark humour.

A Week In Film #157: Quiet bidets

Finding Nemo
Pixar film. Motherless fish gets separated from dad. Tries to get back home. Quite good.

Spielberg’s breakthrough picture – a crap-looking fake killer shark, judicious fast editing, that music, just the right number of fake climaxes, a fine Hitchcock zoom, a perfect trio of leads… That’s some bad hat, Harry!

Perhaps it’s because it doesn’t have the overfamiliarity of Silence Of The Lambs, but I think I may prefer this Starling/Lector murder porn over its predecessor.

Julianne Moore is, dare I say it, more enjoyable than Jodie Foster, and better suits the whole absurd grand guignol goings on – Verger, Pazzi, Krendler and all those pigs… Talking of pork, Hopko stinks the place up with fetid ham aromas as usual, but it’s more forgivable with this sort of nonsense.

The Trouble With Harry
One of my favourite Hitchcocks – a sweet story of some small-town folks and a corpse. Simply delightful.

The Omen
The original! The best! Antichrist, jackal-mother, crazed priest, nosey pap, angry apes, tricycle-and-goldfish-bowl gag, falling spire, flying glass…

What’s not to like? Pulp filmmaking at its best. Take a bow, Richard Donner.

A Week In Film #156: Shhh

Spy Sorge
Japanese New Wave dude Masahiro Shinoda takes on the fascinating story of Richard Sorge, a German communist who spied for the Soviets in Japan during the Second World War.

For the most part a conventionally pieced together film, Shinoda relies more on the story itself than any flashy tricks (though there is a slight fracture in the linear narrative to really reel us in at the start). Iain Glen seems to nail Sorge, a man whose nerves must have been frayed after years of pretending to be a Nazi as part of his cover.

For Queen & Country
Early lead role for Denzel Washington as a Falklands veteran adrift in Thatcher’s Britain, who discovers that despite having fought and nearly died for his country, because he was born in the West Indies, he is treated as a foreigner in his own land.

It’s something of a melodrama, but first-time director Martin Stellman (who penned Defence Of The Realm) marshals things competently, and there are some strong performances from Dorian Healy, as a wounded, probably PTSD-stricken former comrade-in-arms, and Amanda Redman as the woman he comes to trust. Bruce Payne as a drug-dealing old friend is perhaps a little over the top, but solid background work from the likes of Frank Harper and Ken Stott help keep it anchored (for the most part). Basically rather depressing.