Monthly Archives: October 2016

A Week In Film #416: Eh?

Fantastic Four (2005) title screen
Fantastic Four (2005)
Unremarkable pre-MCU big screen outing for one of the most boring super hero teams ever, with foursome Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans and Michael Chiklis doing fantastic stuff, and Julian McMahon as bad guy Doctor Doom. I really cannot remember anything that happened. Directed by Tim Story, whose oeuvre I am equally unclear about.

The Hoax title screen
The Hoax
Quite interesting based-on-real-events tale about writer Clifford Irving (played here by Richard Here) and his fake memoir of reclusive rich fruitcake Howard Hughes. Alfred Molina as the would-be biographer’s nervy wingman is pretty good. Decent enough direction from Lasse Hallström.

A Week In Film #415: Wah?

[The Girl On The Train title screen]
The Girl On The Train
Efficient adaptation by Tate Taylor (never heard of him) of a novel by Paula Hawkins (never heard of her) about an alcoholic woman (Emily Blunt) who has a stalky-stalky relationship with her ex (Justin Theroux) and his new wife (Rebecca Ferguson) – as well as their neighbours (Luke Evans and Haley Bennett), played out during her constant commutes past their house on a suburban train. BUT ALL IS NOT AS IT SEEMS, etc.

Enjoyable, a bit hokey, Blunt is great, nice turn from Evans as a ragey cuckold, Édgar Ramirez as a shrink, Allison Janney as a suspicious cop.

A Week In Film #414: Staying in

The Siege Of Jadotville title screen
The Siege Of Jadotville
Jamie Dorman is an Irish career soldier sent to the Congo with a small contingent of peacekeepers; they are caught in the middle of a crossfire of realpolitik and incompetence (with much blame being laid at the feet of Conor Cruise O’Brien – Mark Strong).

Richie Smyth handles the action scenes pretty well, but the political background is rather more skirted over. Funny seeing coked-up Swedish James Bond Michael Persbrandt as UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold. Jason O’Mara (lead in the US remake of Life On Mars) plays second fiddle to Dorman as his more experienced, world-weary sergeant.

A Perfect Day title screen
A Perfect Day
So-so comic drama about a trio of Western aid workers (Tim Robbins, Benicio del Toro and Mélanie Thierry) and their local translator (Fedja Štukan) and their efforts to remove a rotting corpse from a village well in war-torn post-break up Yugoslavia. Not strong enough in either the pathos or ridiculousness departments to be considered a classic, but certainly watchable stuff from director Fernando Léon de Aranoa.

Riphagen title screen
Riphagen
Absorbing wartime drama about Dutch gangster, opportunistic local Nazi party member and all-round collaborationist scumbag Dries Riphagen (Jeroen van Konigsbrugge). A very interesting story, though not sure how accurate director Pieter Kuijpers has made it.

Felony title screen
Felony
Another strong one from Joel Edgerton (writing and producing as well as starring), here as a good Aussie cop who makes a big mistake. Tom Wilkinson is his more jaded, more grey-around-the-edges old mentor who tries to protect him, Jai Courtney the fresh faced rookie who smells a rat. Decently directed by Matthew Saville, with decent (if more minor) parts for Melissa George and Sarah Roberts.

The Trials Of Cate McCall title screen
The Trials Of Cate McCall
Just another drama about a troubled, driven lawyer whose home life is falling apart, working on a case where nothing is as it seems. Has the feel of a worthy but turgid pilot; The Verdict meets Primal Fear, and not really as interesting as either. Kate Beckinsale puts in some work, but it’s such a hackneyed story it’s not really salvageable; plus it’s got something of a mean, reactionary streak to it.

Hackers title screen
Hackers
Fun, silly, trashy stuff from British Hollywood emigre Iain Softley, responsible for pairing up Jonny Lee Miller with Angelina Jolie as a pair of computer geeks who (with fellow hacking chums Matthew Lillard, Renoly Santiago, Laurence Mason and Jesse Bradford) find themselves in over their heads and out on the lam (etc etc etc). Fisher Stevens, Lorraine Bracco and Penn Jillette make a fine trio of baddies. Wendell Pierce is the Fed on their heels.

Labyrinth title screen
Labyrinth
Jim Henson, a bunch of Muppets, Jennifer Connelly being all moody teenager, and David Bowie wobbling his big ball around – what’s not to like?

A Week In Film #413: Digging in

Noah title screen
Noah
Boring ‘biblical epic’ from Darren Aronofsky, with Russell Crowe a very angry maritime zoo keeper.

Rob The Mob title screen
Rob The Mob
Full of brio and glee, a based-on-true-events crime comic drama from director Raymond De Felitta and writer Jonathan Fernandez, about a clueless Bonnie and Clyde from Queens who worked a standover gig on Gotti mob businesses until everything caught up with them. A strong cast (Andy Garcia(!), Ray Romano, Frank Whaley etc) but a slightly meandering structure, though fine central performances from Michael Pitt and (in particular) Nina Arianda (her from Goliath) raise it above average. Definitely more fun than The Wannabe</>, a more earnest and reverential take on the same people and story.

The Asphalt Jungle title screen
The Asphalt Jungle
John Huston’s classic 1950 heist noir, about a team of crooks planning and executing a caper in some grim, unnamed city in the Midwest. Great cast – Sam Jaffe, Sterling Hayden, James Whitmore, Anthony Caruso, Louis Calhern – and great visuals (Harold Rosson in charge of cinematography).

Moneyball title screen
Moneyball
Absorbing drama from Bennett Miller (who did the similarly cold Capote and Foxcatcher) about the intersection of sport and commerce, as represented by the ‘sabermetric’ approach to identifying cost-effective players to hire used by baseball team general manager Billy Bean (Brad Pitt) at the Oakland Athletics in the early 2000s. Nice performances (Pitt, Jonah Hill, Chris Pratt, Casey Bond, Philip Seymour Hoffman), interesting story.

Premium Rush title screen
Premium Rush
Ultimately unsatisfying high concept action/thriller about a bike courier in New York, race against time, yadda yadda yada. With Joseph Gordon-Levitt, from writer-director David Koepp (Jurassic Park, Mission: Impossible, Panic Room).

Hard Rain title screen
Hard Rain
More like it: TV journeyman Michael Salomon directs silly set pieces solidly and with fun, as slacker security guard Christian Slater and philosophical thief Morgan Freeman face off in a Midwestern town that has been evacuated and flooded.

Mulholland Falls title screen
Mulholland Falls
A squad of brassknuckled LA cops keep the town Mob-free in the early 1950s; but shit comes to pass. Not stupendously deep, but some nice bits from Lee Tamahori and his cast (Nick Nolte, Chazz Palminteri, Melanie Griffith, Jennifer Connelly, Michael Madsen, John Malkovich, Treat Williams, Chris Penn, Titus Welliver, William Petersen). Andrew McCarthy is atrocious, though!

A Week In Film #412: Settling in

Tremors title screen
Tremors
Ron Underwood’s witty feature debut, a silly tale of huge, prehistoric man-eating worms terrorising a tiny Nevadan desert town. Fred Ward and Kevin Bacon set the tone as bickering slacker cowboys.

Panic Room title screen
Panic Room
David Fincher delivers a very satisfactory genre thriller – rich divorcee Jodie Roberts buys an old Upper West Side brownstone only for her and her teen daughter (Kristen Stewart) to be targeted by a determined crew of burglars (Jared Leto, Dwight Yoakam and Forest Whitaker).

[Tremors 2: Aftershock title screen]
Tremors 2: Aftershock
I kind of half-remembered this sequel (directed by original co-author S S Wilson) as being quite good; sadly not – rather dull. Ward returns, but Bacon is replaced by Christopher Gartin as a fanboy of Earl and Val. Michael Gross is also back as a newly-separated Burt Gummer.

The Thing title screen
The Thing
John Carpenter’s peerless horror remake, a true in-camera classic thanks to the likes of DP Dean Cundey and FX wizards Rob Bottin and Stan Winston. An ensemble cast (primus inter pares: Kurt Russell) of scientific misfits stuck in an Antarctic research station finds themselves under attack from an unknown force.

The Final Days title screen
The Final Days
Pedestrian dramatisation of Woodward and Bernstein’s history of the end of the Nixon presidency. Lane Smith does alright as the mendacious commander-in-chief, but it’s no All The President’s Men.