St George’s Day
Directorial debut by Frank Harper, who despite solid performances (Between The Lines, A Room For Romeo Brass, The Football Factory, term, South West Nine) has never really had the opportunities other flashier actors of his vintage have been offered.
It’s not a great film – it’s about a pair of cockney bad boy cousins (Harper and Craig Fairbrass) trying to go straight(ish) whilst displaying all the hallmarks of a midlife crisis – but it has really interesting creative flourishes, particularly in blocking, framing and lighting. Sure the dialogue is at times hackneyed, and there’s really not enough for the female members of the cast to be getting their teeth into, but it is watchable, and it feels like the crew is committed to it, which is a good sign.
Dogged journeyman Brian Trenchard-Smith remakes the 1943 film, with James Belushi as a world-weary maverick tank man in the North African desert, trying to escape encirclement by the Africa Korps.
The Taking Of Pelham 123 (2009)
Remake of the New York crime caper classic, with Denzel Washington replacing Walter Matthau and John Travolta in place of Robert Shaw. Unnecessary and inferior, but watchable, as is often the case with Tony Scott’s oeuvre.
Battle Of Britain
Okay, so it’s at the soapier end of the war movie spectrum, but it does have the best ever aerial combat scenes set to a stirring William Walton theme
The Friends Of Eddie Coyle
Career criminal Robert Mitchum must decide whether or not to grass up his confederates.
Dirty Pretty Things
Chiwetel Ejiofor as an undocumented Nigerian immigrant caught up in shady business as he works as a night porter in an upmarket London hotel. With Audrey Tatou, Benedict Wong, Sergi López, Sophie Okonedo and Zlatko Buric, directed by Stephen Frears, written by Stephen Knight.
Top notch modern, feminist-inflected Disney princess animation.
Aerial retread of Cars.
The Lion King
The circle of life and all that. More for the boy than for me.
Robert Stromberg and Linda Woolverton’s imaginative revisionist feminist retelling of Sleeping Beauty from the perspective of the eponymous ‘evil’ fairy. Angelina Jolie nails it.
Nothing But The Truth
Plodding but engaging drama about a journalist (Kate Beckinsale) relentlessly pursued by a Federal prosecutor (Matt Dillon) for a story which exposed a CIA covert officer (Vera Farming). Rod Lurie wrings every drip he can out of the story, and there’s no Hollywood happy ending.
Instantly unmemorable but slick blockbuster fare, with Arnold Schwarzeneggar and his corrupt DEA crew being whittled down one-by-one after a heist goes south. Typically high gloss emptiness from David Ayer. Mireille Enos is the cast highlight.
Lions For Lambs
Somewhat forgettable flick about patriotic soldiers being stitched up by two-faced politicians, or something, with Robert Redford directing, and a bunch of famous people (Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep) and less famous people (Michael Peña, Andrew Garfield) doing, um, stuff.
Not unenjoyable policier about a cop investigating three brutal murders in pre-perestroika Moscow. Michael Apted directs adaptation of Martin Cruz Smith’s potboiler novel; William Hurt, Joanna Pacuła, Lee Marvin, Brian Dennehy, Ian McDiarmid and Ian Bannen round out the cast.
Sly Stallone as Freddy Heflin, a New Jersey sheriff in Garrison, a New Jersey suburban town dominated by NYPD city cops whose ranks he cannot join due to a hearing impairment. When a corruption scandal rears up in Garrison, Freddy must decide where he stands. Chunky cast includes Harvey Keitel, Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro, Janeane Garofalo, Annabella Sciorra, Michael Rapaport, Robert Patrick and Peter Berg; all-rounder James Mangold writes/directs.
Mike Newell’s somewhat overwrought screen version of a real-life relationship between a low-level wiseguy (Al Pacino) and and undercover FBI agent (Johnny Depp). Still enjoyable, but feels like a bunch of actors doing gangster tropes.
Bill Duke’s zesty period gangster flick, with Laurence Fishburne as Bumpy Johnson, Tim Roth as Dutch Schultz and Andy Garcia as Lucky Luciano.
Actioner that sets itself up as slightly more cerebral than it really is, but enjoyable nonetheless. Robert De Niro is a retired special ops guy brought into a piece of private enterprise involving a MacGuffin in a briefcase and a multinational crew of ne’erdowells (Sean Bean, Stellan Skarsgård, Jean Reno and Skipp Sudduth) brought together by Natascha McEhlhone and Jonathan Pryce. John Frankenheime directs some fine set pieces, and the script (fine-tuned from J D Zeik’s first time effort by David Mamet) keeps things interesting.