Monthly Archives: March 2014

A Week In Film #281: So near yet so far

Welcome To ThePunch title screen
Welcome To The Punch
So close. So, so close – this is a Brit action thriller which very nearly broke out of the parochial ghetto that has shackled the likes of the big screen version of The Sweeney, which nearly pulled away from the in-jokes and all-pals-together wackiness that has become the stock in trade of the Primrose Hill lot, and which very nearly was that homegrown blockbuster – it feels sort of aiming for the Heat or Bad Boys sort of zone – that was more than just an intelligent crime drama.

So close, but it wasn’t to be. The awkwardly Americanised script jars; Daniel Mays is miscast as a senior cop; a simple plot is pointlessly submerged in needless blind alleys; again too male-centric with not enough good or meaty parts for women.

On the plus side, though, you have two or three really good action set pieces; a pair of well-matched protagonists in James McAvoy and Mark Strong; excellent support from the likes of Johnny Harris and Peter Mullan and Ruth Sheen; and ambition. Lots of ambition. I really hope that by his next outing writer/director Eran Creevy sorts out all the problems and delivers 100% of his potential rather than the 50-60% on show here.

A Week In Film #280: Wettest

Lawless title screen
The third collaboration between director John Hillcoat and songsmith-turned-scriptwriter Nick Cave, this is a fair period piece about a family of redneck moonshiners in rural Virginia during Prohibition. Tom Hardy, Jason Clarke and even Shia LaBeouf are all quite watchable as the Bondurant brothers; Jessica Chastain and Mia Wasikowska get to play slightly beyond the Whore and Princess archetypes (but only just). Oh, and Guy Pearce and Gary Oldman get to round out the cast as a bent cop and scheming gang boss respectively.

But it is by no means the epic it clearly strives to be. It’s just too derivative, too plodding, too ordinary. An excellent calling card for Hardy, though.

A Week In Film #277: Number Two

NY77: The Coolest Year In Hell title screen
NY77: The Coolest Year In Hell
Excellent and enjoyable documentary about New York City at a time when hip hop, disco and punk were all emerging, as well as political battles, riots, blackouts, a heatwave and slum clearances. Fascinating, well-assembled, very watchable.
 Superfly: The True Untold Story Of Frank Lucas title screen
Superfly: The True Untold Story Of Frank Lucas
Documentary about the life, career and fall of Harlem heroin kingpin, who previously was celebrated in the biopic American Gangster. Here it’s a lot more downbeat, with powerful interviews with people who used to be in the game with him.

Mr Untouchable: The Nicky Barnes Story title screen
Mr Untouchable: The Nicky Barnes Story
Documentary about the life, career and fall of another Harlem heroin kingpin, who this time turned super grass. Flashier and less willing to challenge accounts than Superfly, it’s still a fascinating topic.