Monthly Archives: November 2015

A Week In Film #368: Fresh mix

Contagion title screen
Contagion
Steven Soderbergh does the intersecting lives ensemble thing again, this time about a fast-spreading virus which soon kills off loads of people. Jude Law as a WAKE UP SHEEPLE homeopathic huckster is at least more engaging than Laurence Fishburne’s dull public health official, but the cod Australian accent is… odd.

The Gunman title screenThe Gunman
A heavyweight cast (Sean Penn, Mark Rylance, Idris Elba, Javier Bardem, Jasmine Trinca, Ray Winstone) attempts to reverse engineer the late career action thriller success of Liam Neeson, but end up with a lightweight genre piece that is effectively a glossier take on Burt Reynolds’ or Charles Bronson’s 1980s movies. Pierre Morel (Banlieue 13, Taken, From Paris With Love) directs, eye Travis (Omagh, Vantage Point) contributes to the script, and there’s even a production credit for hit-in-the-face-with-a-shovel ex-mercenary Peter McAleese.

Mystic River title screen
Mystic River
Clint Eastwood directs a sombre tale of child abuse, lost friendships, miscommunication and loss, based on Dennis Lehane’s Boston-set novel, scripted for the screen by Brian Helgeland. Strong performances from Sean Penn, Tim Robbins and Kevin Bacon as three childhood friends who drifted apart after a childhood trauma, but who as adults have been thrown back together.

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A Week In Film #367: Drama & docs

The French Connection title screen
The French Connection
Did you ever pick your feet in Poughkeepsie?

Weekender title screen
Weekender
Not so great attempt to herald up the heady atmosphere of early nineties British rave culture, full of sloppy or anachronistic production details. Something of a waste of a strong young cast – Jack O’Connell, Zawe Ashton, Tom Meeten – and you never feel very invested in the characters. As for the plot, no, that doesn’t go anywhere either. Directed by Karl Golden from a Chris Coghill script.

Chasing Madoff title screen
Chasing Madoff
Retreading an amateur investigation into the Ponzi king’s affairs, and how the authorities didn’t take the accusations seriously. Decent doc by Jeff Prosserman.

From Bedrooms To Billions title screen
From Bedrooms To Billions
Documentary biopic of the British video game industry. Excellent stuff from film makers Anthony and Nicola Caulfield.

A Week In Film #366: FRESH MEAT!

Along Came A Spider title screen
Along Came A Spider
Very fair-to-middling psychological drama with police forensic psychologist Morgan Freeman jousting with a dangerous killer, or something. Directed by Lee Tamahori, with Monica Potter and Michael Wincott as the bad guy.

The Machine title screen
The Machine
Impressive low budget SF film by Caradog W James, about a dystopian near future in which Britain is embroiled in a technologically-driven cold war with China. Toby Stephens is a scientist working on a secret military project to provide cybernetic implants to wounded soldiers, Caity Lotz is the young boffin recruited to work on the team. Things do not go well.

The Search For General Tso title screen
The Search For General Tso
Documentary by Ian Cheney about a peculiarly American Chinese food dish. Far less esoteric and more accessible than one might imagine.

Flawless title screen
Flawless
Far better than it looked on paper: sixties corporate manager Demi Moore, bedevilled by sexism and a glass ceiling, endeavours with wily old caretaker Michael Caine to relieve her employers of countless invaluable gems. Directed with aplomb by Michael Radford.

Kraftidioten title screen
Kraftidioten AKA In Order Of Disappearance
Wry and dark comedy about a simple but driven man (Stellan Skarsgård) investigating why his son died. Enjoyably black stuff from Hans Petter Moland.

Common title screen
Common
Teenager gets caught up in the aftermath of others’ violence, and suffers at hands of joint enterprise law. A righteously angry polemic written by Jimmy McGovern and directed by David Blair, who worked together on the TV series The Street.

Dom Hemingway title screen
Dom Hemingway
Imagine Point Blank relocated to Britain and with Norman Wisdom in the lead role. Now imagine Jude Law playing Norman Wisdom playing Lee Marvin, and that’s basically what you have. Big, brash, not perfect, but serviceable. Directed by Richard Shepard, who injected similar misanthropic humour into his deconstruction of Pierce Brisnan’s Bond, The Matador.

The Hound Of The Baskervilles title screen
The Hound Of The Baskervilles (1959)
Classic Hammer version of perhaps the most famous of all Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, with Peter Cushing in the deerstalker, André Morell as a baffled-looking Dr Watson, and Christopher Lee channelling aristocratic haemmorhoids as Sir Henry Baskerville.

A Week In Film #365: ALL NEW!

Back In Time title screen
Back In Time
Polished documentary about Back To The Future fandom by Jason Aron.

Man From Reno title screen
Man From Reno
Convoluted modern noir )of sorts), about a Japanese crime novelist (Ayako Fujitani) and a small town sheriff (Pepe Serna) who become embroiled in a murder mystery in Nevada. Decent effort by nipponophile director Dave Boyle.

Gang Related title screen
Gang Related
Final film appearance of Tupac Shakur, who stars with James Belushi as a pair of bent cops who dig themselves into a hole. No Citizen Kane, but fair genre work from Jim Kouf.

Kung Fury title screen
Kung Fury
Impeccably detailed in style, tone and look, an affectionate pastiche of eighties martial arts action movies, by Swedish helmsman David Sandberg.

Super title screen
Super
Covering similar ground to Kick-Ass, which it predates, with mild-mannered nobody Rainn Wilson becoming a costumed avenger. Superpowers he has not, leading to various painful encounters. Elle Page is superb as the enthusiastic young woman who attaches herself to him as a sidekick; Kevin Bacon is also good as the bemused local crime boss (all very modest and little league stuff) with whom his wife has shacked up with. Decent and affectionate stuff from James Gunn.

A Week In Film #364: Retreads

Despicable Me 2 title screen
Despicable Me 2
Enjoyable sequel, with Gru undercover at a mall on the hunt for super villain El Macho.

The Dark Knight Rises title screen
The Dark Knight Rises
Least best of the Nolan/Bale Batmen with the whole awkward Occupy/Anonymous angle, but it does have a great pre-credits prologue, and Tom Hardy doing a gravelly-voiced Bane, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as possible future Robin-before-he’s-Robin.

Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back title screen
The Empire Strikes Back
Snow, taun-tauns, a wampa, Yoda, hand amputations, Boba Fett, carbonite, pretty good.