Monthly Archives: February 2015

A Week In Film #328: Game on

Myn Bala title screen
Жаужүрек мың бала AKA Myn Bala: Warriors Of The Steppe
This “2011 Kazakhstani historical dramatic film depicting the overthrow of Zungharian oppressors” was sat on my Netflix queue for ages before I plucked up the courage… Pretty decent stuff, though damned confusing on the history front from someone with zero knowledge of the subject.

Zero Dark Thirty title screen
Zero Dark Thirty
Kathryn Bigelow’s manipulative but viscerally thrilling tale of the hunt for the OBL dude.

Brooklyn Rules title screen
Brooklyn Rules
A Goodfellas/A Bronx Tale wannabe, with Freddie Prinze Jr, Scott Caan and Jerry Ferrara a trio of neighbourhood pals with varying degrees of connection to local mob bossAlec Baldwin in eighties New York. From Michael Corrente.

Traffic title screen
Soderbergh’s retooling and retelling of the magnificent Channel 4 mini-series Traffic, relocated to the US and Mexico. Great cast includes Benicio del Toro, Michael Douglas, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Clifton Collins Jr, Steven Bauer, Don Cheadle, Luis Guzmán, Albert Finney, James Brolin, Dennis Quaid as a sleazy lawyer, and so on. Stephen Gaghan captures the depth and human stories of the original n his script.

TITLEthefirstgreattrainrobberyThe First Great Train Robbery title screen
The First Great Train Robbery
A reliable go-to stand-by for a bit of cheering up – Michael Crichton directs Sean Connery, Lesley-Anne Down and Donald Sutherland in his one adaptation of his historical crime non-fiction tale of Victorian criminals pulling off a daring heist. And great Jerry Goldsmith score.

A Week In Film #327: Waiting

Dirty Wars title screen
Dirty Wars
Jeremy Scahill is a compelling journalist on the subject of private military contractors and the modern battlefield in general, and Blackwater in particular; however, this authored screen documentary on the topic never quite matches the compelling nature of his written work.

Battle Company: Korengal title screen
Battle Company: Korengal
Sebastian Junger’s follow up to his 2010 Afghan war documentary Restrepo.

I Am Soldier title screen
I Am Soldier
The first act – quiet, self-contained catering corps soldier Tom Hughes attempts to pass the SAS selection course, whilst cynical NCO Noel Clarke does his best to blow him out, goes pretty well – sort of like a good episode of Ultimate Force. However, the climax – some kind of a TERRORIST OUTRAGE deserves a bit of the ol’ Hereford hospitality – just looks cheap (sort of like a bad episode of Ultimate Force). The comparisons with said telly programme are by no means undermined by having Alex Reid on board as a member of the Special Reconnaissance Regiment.

Whilst not great, certainly a very competent piece of genre entertainment (with pretensions above its station) from writer-director Ronnie Thompson (Tower Block).

Tower Block title screen
Tower Block
Apart from some unsatisfying elements to the denouement, an efficient and economical British thriller about a disparate group of residents trapped on a single floor of a block of flats by a lunatic for unstated reasons. I told you that Ronnie Thompson chap was worth a roll!

The Parallax View title screen
The Parallax View
Investigative journalist Warren Beatty’s fondness for conspiracy theories cuts him off from the media mainstream, but when he gets a tip-off connecting various JFK/RFK/Malcolm X-type assassinations, he can’t help himself but go sniffing.

A Week In Film #326: ‘Cruited

Which Way Is The Front Line From Here? title screen
Which Way Is The Front Line From Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington
Interesting documentary about a photojournalist who died in Misrata during the Libyan Civil War, filmed by friend Sebastian Junger.

The Expatriate title screen
The Expatriate
Forgettable Bourne-meets-The Net by way of Taken-style thriller, with ex-CIA spook Aaron Eckhart pissing off the wrong people, or something. With Olga Kurylenko, directed by opera specialist(!) Philipp Stölzl.

Kill The Messenger title screen
Kill The Messenger
The story of San Jose journalist Gary Webb and his series of ‘Dark Alliance’ stories on CIA collusion in drug trafficking is fascinating, but this film about it is not. Jeremy Renner in the lead role, director Michael Cuesta never quite makes it movie-sized.

The Drop title screen
The Drop
Gripping Brooklyn-set crime/relationship drama from Dennis Lehane, better known as the Bostonian scribe behind Mystic River and Gone Baby Gone, as well as being a writer on The Wire. Michaël R Roskam directs, with quality cast including Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, James Gandolfini and Matthias Schoenaerts.

A Week In Film #325: Don’t care work

Identity title screen
A bunch of strangers are trapped in a Nevada motel during a storm, there’s a serial killer being escorted by a cop, a limo driver trying to get home to his kid, a hooker, a fading actress, blah blah blah. Very silly, but sort of so-so. Decent enough cast – John Cusack, Ray Liotta, Clea Duvall, Amanda Peet, Rebecca De Mornay, Pruitt Taylor Vince – and not uninteresting.

ParaNorman title screen
Oddly downbeat 3D animated kids’ flick about a boy who talks to dead people. Well, it’s not exactly an uplifting plot. But quite enjoyable once you’ve over the hump and into zombie apocalypse territory. Co-directed by Aardman alumnus Sam Fell, with voice talents including Kodi Smit-McPhee, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Casey Affleck.

Tangled title screen
Disney’s zesty pre-Frozen proto-feminist take on Rapunzel, and not too shabby.

The Firm (1993) title screen
The Firm (1993)
Perfectly diverting legal potboiler, Sydney Pollack directing from John Grisham’s book, with Tom Cruise a young lawyer given an offer he can’t refuse from veteran attorney Geen Hackman and… Erm… Can’t remember – it’s that sort of film. But definitely not terrible.