Monthly Archives: August 2016

A Week In Film #406: Packing

The French Connection title screen
The French Connection
Billy Friedkin nails it. Gene Hackman and Roy Scheider nail it. Composer Don Ellis nails it. Cinematographer Owen Roizman nails it. Editor Jerry Greenberg nails it. Stunt coordinator Bill Hickman nails it. Basically, consider everything nailed. And that dark, unresolved ending!

Double Indemnity
Billy Wilder and Raymond Chandler team up to give us the quintessential noir, in which greedy insurance salesman Fred MacMurray plots with blonde siren Barbara Stanwyck to bump off her old man and cash in a life policy. But they figured without the dogged determination of claims adjustor Edward G Robinson.

Bound title screen
The Warchowskis handle neo noir with aplomb, with a taut, gender-bending take on femme fatales as gangster’s moll Jennifer Tilly hatches a plan with ex-jailbird Gina Gershon, at the expense of brutal mob launderer Joe Pantoliano. A bold and striking first feature.

A Week In Film #405: Prepping

Sicario title screen
Emily Blunt is an FBI counter-kidnap specialist in Arizona who is talent-spotted for an inter-agency task force challenging the encroachment of hyper violent Mexican drugs cartels into the United States.

Strong performances from Blunt as well as Benicio del Toro, Josh Brolin and Daniel Kaluuya, and beautifully shot by Denis Villeneuve, it does suffer somewhat by comparison with the thematically linked (and structurally similar) Traffic, which is by far the stronger work overall.

Cherry 2000 title screen
Cherry 2000
Dull post-apocalyptic road/quest movie about a guide (Melanie Griffiths) leading a bourgeois (David Andrews) into the badlands of Nevada to retrieve a sex robot. Steve De Jarnatt’s direction seems to take out all of the interesting elements of Michael Almereyda’s script, and all we are left with is a pallid Mad Max rip-off. Tim Thomerson gets to chew some scenery, though.

Killer: A Journal Of Murder title screen
Killer: A Journal Of Murder
A mostly mediocre rendering of a real life story, about a thoughtful prison guard (Robert Sean Leonard) and his murderous charge (James Woods) in a Kansas prison during the Great Depression.

The Swarm title screen
The Swarm
Simply dreadful monster terror disaster blockbuster from Irwin Allen, about KILLER AFRICAN BEES IN TEXAS. Michael Caine is at his most absent, and the ‘special effects’ are lamentable.

Lumumba: La Mort Du Prophète title screen
Lumumba: La Mort Du Prophète
Documentarist Raoul Peck explores the tragedy of Congolese independence, and the betrayal of the DRC’s first prime minister, Patrice Lumumba. Much of the film is simply contemporary footage on the streets of Brussels, the imperial masters’ capital, narrated in a dreamlike fashion by Peck, interspersed amongst contemporary interviews with significant figures, and archive newsreel footage.

The Seven-Per-Cent Solution title screen
The Seven-Per-Cent Solution
Slightly plodding ersatz Sherlock Holmes adventure, directed by Herbert Ross from Nicholas Meyer’s script of his own novel, with the Baker Street adductionist (Nicol Williamson) tricked into travelling to Vienna to be treated by Sigmund Freud (Alan Arkin) for his cocaine addiction. Naturally, this leads to all manner of intrigues. Robert Duvall employs the oddest approximation of an English accent as Dr Watson, whilst Olivier picks up a paycheque for his brief turn as Moriarty.