A Week In Film #256: Up in the mountains

United Red Army title screen
連合赤軍 あさま山荘への道程 AKA Jitsuroku Rengô Sekigun: Asama Sansô E No Michi AKA United Red Army: The Path To Asama Mountain Lodge
Bloody long, difficult to follow three-acter about the late 60s/early 70s Japanese ultra-left student movement. Some impressive bits in it, but mostly it’s just unrelentingly dark and depressing (an hour long middle section devoted to having a couple of dozen kids haranguing, torturing and killing each other whilst undergoing ‘training’ in the woods).

The final showdown – a siege in the Asama mountain lodge – is impressively staged, and goes against the tropes by only ever showing what’s happening inside the building they’re holed up in, with no reveals of the 1,635 cops surrounding them.

Not a film I’d necessarily recommend to anyone, but interesting – now I want to read up about the RAF, RLF, URA, JRA, EAAAF and the rest.

Written and directed by Kōji Wakamatsu, who on checking appears to be the director of a contemporary documentary, Red Army-PFLP: Declaration Of World War which I keep meaning to watch, as well as the creator of Japan’s idiosyncratic pornographic ‘pink movie’ genre, and a former gangster.

The Time-Traveler's Wife title screen
The Time Traveler’s Wife
Romantic science fiction/fantasy based on an Oprah’s Club-type book with a terrible title, but I loved it, second time like the first. Just really nicely put together and it’s very touching, and the relationship between Henry and Clare really works for me, and Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams and Ron Livingston, and Brooklynn Proulx and Hailey McCann, and all the other cast members, all do too.

And Robert Schwentke directs unobtrusively, with the economical use of a beautiful composition. Only just noticed it was written by Bruce Joel Rubin, who also scripted Jacob’s Ladder.

Drillbit Taylor title screen
Drillbit Taylor
So-so not-quite fratpack comedy (produced by Judd Apatow and co-scripted by Seth Rogen), with an ever-amiable Owen Wilson as a bum pretending to be a bodyguard to a trio of kids being bullied at their new high school. Doesn’t really go anywhere, doesn’t have any of the pizazz or ensemble chemistry of the likes of Superbad, and apart from Wilson, there’s not really anyone likeable in the picture, so it’s not even managing to get you to like spoiled, privileged kids in the way John Hughes could.

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