The travails of a pair of exorcists working for a discreet paranormal removal company, who live by a simple set of rules which naturally get broken somewhere in the second act? Sounds great. Unfortunately it was just a bit, well, boring after a while. Nice idea from Nick Whitfield, decent central performances from Will Adamsdale and Andrew Buckley, but doesn’t really find its stride. A shame.
Kapringen AKA A Kidnapping
Powerful drama about a Danish freighter being hijacked in the Indian Ocean by Somali pirates. A tale with no false heroics, just fear, waiting, heat, hunger, and senselessness. Tobias Lindholm directs with stillness. Excellent performances from Johan Philip Asbæk as the cook forced to act as a go-between, Søren Malling (him from Forbrydelsen) as an uptight shipping company executive who takes it upon himself to negotiate, Abdihakin Asgar as the pirates’ own negotiator, real-life shipping security expert Gary Skjoldmose Porter as the consultant brought in to help resolve the situation… Basically a very good film that dispenses with sham shocks or cheap highs.
Przesłuchanie AKA Interrogation
Unrelenting tale of a woman (Krystyna Janda) finding herself waking up in a prison in post-war Stalinist Poland, not knowing why, and under pressure to sign a ‘confession’. Directed by Ryszard Bugajski, it was suppressed under the period of martial law in the early 1980s, and only released in 1989 post-Berlin Wall fall.
Not from the Shawshank school of feelgood prison movie, but with many strong moments and performances, including from Adam Ferency as the secret policeman under whose skin our protagonist gets.
Modest but diverting little thriller about a sleazy small time London boxing promoter – Michael Caine – who has a chance of hitting the big time with a fight between his son ‘Golden Boy’ (Matthew Marsden) and an American champion under the wing of infinitely sleazier big time promoter Martin Landau, who can barely conceal his contempt at having to be there.
Solid if less than imaginative helmsmanship from John Irvin, with Kenneth Cranham, Frank Harper and Andy Serkis helping to round out the cast. The against-the-clock frenetic pace feels like it’s pitched somewhere between the spiralling-out-of-control of The Long Good Friday and the flashy long shots of Snake Eyes.
Män Som Hatar Kvinnor AKA The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2010)
The original Swedish version of Stieg Larsson’s first part of the ‘Millennium’ book series works a lot better in this extended format. Niels Arden Oplev directs with stylish economy, Noomi Rypace and Michael Nyqvist are both excellent in the leads.
Flickan Som Lekte Med Elden AKA The Girl Who Played With Fire (2010)
Daniel Alfredson takes over directing duties, and it feels closer to distasteful sensationalism – but somehow it still works.
Luftslottet Som Sprängdes AKA The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets’ Nest (2010)
Alfredson again, and all building to a climax. The whole Swedish Cold War spookery stuff is interesting.
Full Metal Jacket
First AWIF film of the year, and it’s a hardy perennial… Palm trees in Docklands, “me love you long time”, Matthew Modine and Vincent D’Onofrio, Animal Mother, all that jazz.
Clear And Present Danger
From Philip Noyce’s Hollywood pap period of the 90s, his second stab at Tom Clancy’s technocratic spook Jack Ryan. Horrible politics, but an effective action thriller. Decent enough turns from Henry Czerny and Harris Yulin.
The Heist AKA The Maiden Heist
So-so comedy about three middle-aged gallery guards (William H Macy, Morgan Freeman and Christopher Walken) who plan a robbery when their favourite exhibits are scheduled to be sold to a Danish museum.
Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas
Mildly diverting franchise rinse-out.
Damn fine wordless Pixar animation about a waste recycling robot on a trash-strewn future Earth.