Monthly Archives: March 2012

A Week In Film #176: Equinox and sunshine

The Terminator
A week of classics (of sorts) kicking off with James Cameron’s future war/man vs machines/time travel auctioneer.

Still got the magic, even if some elements (the dancing at TechNoir, the wonky stop-animation into puppet transitions, the squibless shootings) stand out to our eyes today. The whole cop subplot remains a joy, and the Biehn-Hamilton chemistry really works.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day
Wasn’t really a fan of it originally, but I think it stands up better than I thought it would, the sub-Abyss CGI apart.

Great mood in some sequences (the hospital break), some typically awesome Cameron-marshalled in-camera SFX (the T-800 self-repair scene for instance), and strong in-universe plotting make for a decent popcorner. Furlong’s screech, the product placement and the kiddie-friendly Terminator all grate, though.

All The President's Men title screen
All The President’s Men
Even though it totally overages the involvement of Woodstein and the Post and Deep Throat, it’s still such a powerful film, and I love that it ends where it ends, avoiding a ‘happy’ climax. Got to love all those top flight, grizzled character actors like Warden and Balsam and Robards and Holbrook. Got to love the lensmanship of Willis. Got to love the choreography of Pakula.

Planet Of The Apes (1968)
GET YOUR STINKING PAWS OFF ME YOU DAMNED DIRTY APE! Nova. The world’s smallest city. A Shyamalan-shaming masterclass in the final reveal. One of Heston’s finest end-of-the-world performances.

The LLF picked this one out, and was pleasantly surprised. Nighttime LA, Tom Cruise as a vulpine hitman with five contracts to complete, Jamie Foxx as a cabbie caught up in the mayhem. AND THE STATH. A well-balanced little thriller from Michael Mann. Nice gunplay.

The Lady Vanishes
Hitchcock revisits the sparky spy thriller just three years after the peerless The 39 Steps, and scores himself another banger. What’s not to like? Englishmen abroad Charters & Caldicott in search of cricket news, May Whitty as the old maid who goes missing, Margaret Lockwood as spunky young Iris and Michael Redgrave as the chalky musicologist to her cheesiness…

A Week In Film #174: Getting up to speed

Big Fat Gypsy Gangster
I’d forgotten about this. I’d actually forgotten I’d watched it. And frankly, I put it down to trauma.

A British gangster comedy, based around the Bulla character performed by Ricky Grover (The 11 O’ Clock Show etc), directed by Grover, written by Grover and his wife Maria. I believe it was called simply Bulla during production, and only got its release name as a last-minute and shameless nod to BFGW.

It’s packed full of Nick Love’s repertory company (Geoff Bell, Roland Manookian, Eddie Webber) plus various actors from films based on hooligan/door porn, like Leo Gregory and Dave Legeno. More incongruously there’s the likes of Peter Capaldi as a prison shrink, Derek Acorah as himself (with Rufus Hound his protégé), and Steven Berkoff as Bulla’s spiritual adviser. Oh, and a lot of dwarves, including Maxwell Laird (from that recent documentary series) as a knee-high satyr named The Major. Plus Big Mo from EastEnders as Bulla’s foul-mouthed pub landlady aunt.

Basically, it is all very silly, often rather offensive in a thoroughly casual manner, much in need of a good edit, and definitely a good example of what happens when you don’t nail the script before putting the cast on the set.

It draws on Nick Love, the Gilbey brothers, Jake West, Guy Ritchie’s Snatch, and the noughties run of Ritchie-influenced films. It doesn’t necessarily draw on the best of any of them.

It imparts casual misogyny, homophobia and anti-Gypsy attitudes, all in pursuit of “a larf”. Even worse, it’s not really very funny. But at least it is not as unredeemingly awful as Kung Fu Flid.