Monthly Archives: August 2012

A Week In Film #198: No more BBQ

The Naughty Room title screen
The Naughty Room
The feature debut of the ‘Gay Pirates’ guy, Devonian renaissance man Cosmo Jarvis. At first it seemed like he wouldn’t be able to stretch things out to a full film, despite his short smarts, with too much invested in dumb stoner humour…But I stuck it out and I got payback on my investment.

Sure it’s no classic, not wholly original or anything; but there’s a story there I wanted to see through to the end, characters I got glued to, and things didn’t play out exactly in the fashion the cliche might dictate. A big part of the success was down to David Egan as Subaru, a self-centred pothead doing stupid, annoying shit that despite everything you still root for.

I look forward to the next Jarvis & Co flick.

The First Great Train Robbery title screen
The First Great Train Robbery
A spirit-lifter – enthusiastic period crime capery from Michael Crichton, adapting his own book about a Victorian bullion heist, with a wonderful score by Jerry Goldsmith.

Okay, so Crichton self-censors out some of the less pleasant details from the novel, and there’s an awkward process shot as Clean Willie escapes Newgate over the rooftops of London, but it’s FUN. For enjoyment it’s probably in my top ten, because it delivers every time.

Ice Age title screenIce Age
The first time I’d seen this since it was projected onto a bed sheet hanging above me at a notably grimy squat party in Hackney in the mid 00s. TBH it was better viewed upside down whilst spangled – a rather nondescript CGI toon about a bunch of prehistoric beasties looking after a human baby, learning valuable lessons about friendship, etc. The prologue with Scrat the sabre-toothed squirrel was probably the best thing. John Leguizamo as an annoying sloth was bearable.

A Week In Film #197: Post-Olympic Depression

Okay, so it was a punt. A punt that went wrong. A horrible, sickly, sentimental Adam Sandler confection. But still there were moments I liked, or rather moments where I allowed myself to be emotionally manipulated.

Sandler plays an overworked architect constantly chasing the bonuses and the favour of his sickish boss, David Hasselhoff, and neglecting his family. One day he buys an all-in-one remote from eerie DIY store dude Christopher Walken. Hey! Now he can press pause, rewind, slo-mo etc on real life! There can’t be any drawbacks to this, can there?

A cynical mash-up of A Christmas Carol, It’s A Wonderful Life and Back To The Future 2 (probably).

The Bourne Ultimatum
So we caught up with the last Bourne at home before going out to see the new Bourne at the sinny-marr. It was my least favourite first time I saw it, but on rewatching it seemed better than memory had previously allowed.

The rendition bits at the beginning – with Paddy Considine as a hapless Grauniad hack – were probably the highlights, though; still wasn’t too keen on the Albert Finney mad scientist stuff. The Supremacy callbacks (with Joan Allen as Pamela Landy) played better second time round. Silly ending.

The Bourne Legacy
Now, having seen the trailer, with the MAD SCIENTIST! WE’RE ALTERING DNA!!! nonsense, I really wasn’t holding out much hope, but there was a lot to like about it. First: Jeremy Renner as new operative Cross. Nice and anonymous. A different feel to Bourne. Second: Tony Gilroy directing. Not afraid to slow things down, or stage long scenes. Both the Alaska and Shearing house scenes benefited.

On the downside: too much felt like retreads of scenes from the earlier films. And the WE’RE ALTERING DNA!!! nonsense (though it worked better than the trailer indicated).

A Week In Film #196: The Official LOCOG Film Log part 3 – Chariots of Ire

Mesrine: L’Instinct De Mort AKA Mesrine: Killer Instinct
First half of Jean-François Richet’s lengthy two-parter on the French gangster-turned-soi-disant revolutionary, Jacques Mesrine.

Whilst by nature incredibly episodic, Richet, screenwriter Abdel Raouf Dafri and leading man Vincent Cassel all put the effort in to try and give us a rounded picture of a villainous hero/heroic villain. There are some stupendous moments – the opening sequence is a particular favourite.

Mesrine: L’Ennemi Public No1 AKA Mesrine: Public Enemy Number 1
Our Jacques is properly on the boil, now, hooking up with leftist militant Charly Bauer and threatening not just the banks but also the state…

Der Baader Meinhof Complex title screen
Der Baader Meinhof Complex
Glossy film version of Stefan Aust’s book version of the RAF mythos, directed by Uli Edel (hey, it’s okay, everyone’s forgotten about Body Of Evidence).

Moritz Bleibtreu and Johanna Wokalek are great as Baader and Ensslin, Martina Gedeck’s Meinhof projects the right balance of schiliness and isolation, and there’s a whole sexy vibe to it all. Which films about political violence often neglect, so cheers for not forgetting. Nice touch having the BKA director played by Hitler (and not just any Hitler; a world-weary, ‘good father’ Hitler).

Paul Verhoeven returns to the Dutch Resistance setting of his 1977 breakthrough picture, Soldaat Van Oranje. This time round it’s a whole lot sexier, with Carice van Houten as a Jewish woman fighting back against Nazis, collaborators and double agents in Occupied Holland. War is hell, y’all.

A Week In Film #195: The Official LOCOG Film Log part 2 – Five Rings of Hell

A crisp conman flick, based on an earlier Argentine effort, Nine Queens, and directed non-offensively by Gregory Jacobs.

Here we have totally amoral John C Reilly recruiting young Diego Luna. Maggie Gyllenhaal and Peter Mullan are amongst the strong supporting cast. Whilst viewers with a basic grounding in Mamet should have a decent stab at guessing what’s coming, it is a satisfying yarn for the most part.

Diamond Men
A really enjoyable character piece, with old fashioned diamond salesman Robert Forster paired up with brash young Donnie Wahlberg. Directed by Dan Cohen – never heard of him. Moments of silliness and an overworked trope or two don’t undermine the interplay between our two leads.