Monthly Archives: January 2012

A Week In Film #168: A taxing time

The Omega Man
“What’s this about?” asks the LLF. I explain that it’s basically the same as I Am Legend, that Will Smith film we saw recently (and based on the same Richard Matheson novel as this – qv The Last Man On Earth).

She said let’s have a crack. I warned her it was of its time. She promised to try and not laugh. She broke her promise.

Charlton Heston does Charlton Heston; Anthony Zerbe is great as the ex-news anchor turned millenarian primitivist.

RoboCop
And can you believe she’d never seen Paul Verhoeven’s ultrabrutal social satire on capitalism, yuppies and the militarisation of law enforcement? Kudos to her for sticking through it to the end, though. “It was more violent than I thought it would be.”

A Week In Film #167: Give that man a hand

127 Hours
In bringing canyoneer Aron Ralston’s story to the screen, Danny Boyle’s seems to borrow heavily from producing partner Andrew Macdonald’s director brother Kevin’s own ‘my climbing hell’ picture, Touching The Void. This is not a bad thing.

Boyle, however, dispenses with any of the documentary talking heads sequences threaded through Void, instead sticking to a well-shot, well acted, well-imagined drama. James Franco is excellent.

The American
George Clooney as some sort of an assassin, a gunmaker forced into hiding in some small Italian town. But soon his old life catches up.

Maturely made by Anton Corbijn, with space for the material to breathe.

It’s The Rage
A talky, colliding-lives theatrical transfer, directed by James Stern from a play by Keith Reddin, focusing on the effects of handguns on the lives of a dozen or so Americans.

Irritating jealous husband Jeff Daniels (a less likeable version of the Bill Pullman character in The Last Seduction) kills a man with whom he thinks his wife, Joan Allen, is having an affair. Lawyer Andre Braugher gets him off the hook, but also hooks her up with a job as PA to eccentric geek tycoon Gary Sinise – replacing burned out Josh Brolin, who goes to work in a video rental store, where he meets annoying street urchin Anna Paquin, who begins an affair with the lawyer (who is partner to needy David Schwimmer) whilst winding up her psycho brother Giovanni Ribisi. I think that’s everyone… Oh, and there’s cops Robert Forster and Bokeem Woodbine too.

Basically it’s not great, it’s very stagey – Allen is decent, Forster delivers, Brolin and Sinise do the over-the-top thing fine – and all a bit too try-hard (drumroll, please) Altmanesque.

Ribisi’s repeated paraphrasing of better lines from better films (Taxi Driver, Midnight Cowboy, Dirty Harry), all whilst mugging like he was still on the Friends set, just reminds you of what you are missing by spending time watching this.

A Week In Film #166: Cartoons and a remake

Up
Awesome Pixar CGI animated feature about an old guy, Carl Fredrickson, who decides to pursue the dreams of his childhood, after the death of his beloved wife. That dream involves lots of helium-filled balloons, a trip to Venezuela’s tepui mountain ranges, a Lindergh-esque explorer and his talking dogs (oh, plus a chubby little boy scout along for the ride).

By turns funny, sad and uplifting (well, you would hope so), a wonderful film (and my wee man agreed).

Rio
Boring Blue Skies Studios CGI animated feature about some exotic bird or other who ends up somewhere or other, but is then birdnapped or something, and has to do something to get back to somewhere, and learns something about life, or something.

About the only thing that held my attention was Jermaine Clement from Flight Of The Conchords as a villainous cockatoo, Nigel. Aside from that, very dull indeed (and my wee man agreed).

The Experiment
Frankly awful American remake of Oliver Hirschbiegel’s excellent Das Experiment, like the original a dramatic reimagining of the events of the Stanford prison experiment.

Prison Break creator Paul Scheuring directs flashily, but for some reason excises huge amounts of what made the original so powerful, adds pointless extra violence, omits characterisation, and manages to drop massive gurt plot holes all over the shop. Oscar winners Adrien Brody (all ripped torso and wet-eyed broodiness) and Forest Whitaker (his all-too-usual mumbling-and-blinking schtick) lead the cast.

A Week In Film #164: …Et Une Bonne Année!

Nativity!
A rather fun, silly little Brit comedy from Debbie Isitt (Confetti)about a slacker (Martin Freeman) who coasts through life as a primary school teacher until an impolitic remark to his arch-nemesis (Jason Watkins) forces him to have a crack at something big.

A bunch of likeable kids, Marc Wootton as a childlike classroom assistant, Pam Ferris as the head and Clarke Peters (The Wire‘s Lester Freamon) as a Hollywood bigwig all contribute to a most agreeable confection.