Monthly Archives: August 2014

A Week In Film #302: Continental death dealing

Carlos title screen
Edgar Ramirez captures the narcissism and hubris of the Venezuelan-born international terrorist ‘Carlos the Jackal’ – and the decay over time of his high-minded (if troubling) values into cynical, contemptuous political expediency and violent adventurism. Writer-director Olivier Assayas keeps things motoring along nicely.

Vallanzasca: Gli Angeli Del Male title screen
Vallanzasca – Gli Angeli Del Male AKA Angels Of Evil
Biopic of Milanese mobster Renato Vallanzasca, sort of in the mould of Mesrine or Romanzo Criminale, but simply not as efficiently put together; which is a shame, because the events and people the film portrays seem rather interesting and deserving of better.

A Week In Film #301: Keep ‘em comin’

Animal Kingdom title screen
Animal Kingdom
Excellent, scary, nervous take on the fallout from the Walsh Street Shootings and Melbourne crime family the Pettingills from director David Michod. Ben Medelsohn, as psycho primus inter pares brother Pope, looms large over everything in the dysfunctional Cody household; Sullivan Stapleton and Luke Ford as younger brothers Craig and Darren are good, Jacki Weaver is perfect as ineffectual matriarch Smurf, whilst James Frecheville as the abandoned cousin J, washed ashore on Devil’s Island, pretty much carries the emotional weight of the film. Oh, and a strong turn from Guy Pearce as a cop.

Snake Eyes title screen
Snake Eyes
Not a classic movie by any means, but one of Brian De Palma’s most fun flicks, with Nic Cage as a charismatically bent(ish) Atlantic City cop in whose lap lands a clusterfuck of a case on fight night. Ridiculously long tracking shots, a femme fatale, unnaturalistic boxing scenes, macguffins galore, crazy bird’s eye overview shots – it’s a silly but thoroughly enjoyable Hitch pastiche thriller.

The Spy Who Came In From The Cold title screen
The Spy Who Came In From The Cold
Martin Ritt’s was the first adaptation to accurately transplant Le Carre’s spy novel style onto film – and with a cast that includes Richard Burton (going method as a sot), Claire Bloom as the patsy, Oskar Werner and Peter van Eyck as faction-fighting East German spymasters, as well as noir-influenced photography from Oswald Morris, it remains a downbeat and miserable pleasure.

A Week In Film #300: A Spartan week

Adventureland title screen
Superbad director Greg Mottola does a nice job with this slice of 80s romance, with Jesse Eisenberg working a summer job at a low-rent Pittsburgh theme park to pay his way through college. An excellent cast includes Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig, Kristen Stewart, Martin Starr and Ryan Reynolds.

The Conversation title screen
The Conversation
Coppola’s paranoia/surveillance thriller classic, made in the interregnum between The Godfather and Part II, with a peerless Gene Hackman proving his outsider leading man chops as nervy snooper Harry Caul, who happens upon what seems to be a dangerous conspiracy.

Crisp cinematography from Bill Butler (who replaced sacked lensman Haskell Wexler, whose own impeccably choreographed but naturalistic opening sting scene remains), and a tone-setting musique concrete score by David Shire, which combines with excellent sound design to build on the brooding sense of menace.

The Boys From Brazil title screen
The Boys From Brazil
Silly but enjoyable Nazis-on-the-run potboiler effectively put together by Franklin J Schaffner (Planet Of The  Apes, Papillon/ Patton) from Ira Levin’s definitely-not-literary-fiction best seller about a wacky plot by Hitler’s favourite doctor, Josef Mengele (Gregory Peck).

Some effective little moments – the intro with Steve Guttenberg, Walter Gotell on the dam, scary farmer’s son Bobby Wheelock (Jeremy Black), etc – and decent enough turns from Olivier, Chames Masson, Lilli Palmer, Denholm Ellioott and others.

A Week In Film #299: Fresh meat

Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs title screen
Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs
Quite decent computer animation comedy about a hopeless inventor man-child.

Salt title screen
So-so action thriller, with Angelina Jolie as a CIA super-spy who is stitched up as a Russian sleeper agent, but… Yadda yadda yadda. Not Philip Noyce’s best effort, despite a decent enough high energy chase sequence early on.