Monthly Archives: February 2017

A Week In Film #433: State terror

Bloody Sunday title screen
Bloody Sunday
Paul Greengrass’ shaky-cam recreation of the 1972 Derry civil rights march and subsequent massacre of unarmed civilians at the hands of the Paras. James Nesbitt at his jittery best as march organiser Ivan Cooper, with the likes of Tim Piggott-Smith and Nicholas Farrell as serpentine upper crust British officers, and noted mercenary Simon Mann as the Paras’ battleground commander. Interesting contrast with Jimmy McGovern’s own, more ground-level oriented take on events, Sunday.

Bombshell title screen
Thoroughly pedestrian attempt to dramatise the sinking of the Greenpeace vessel the Rainbow Warrior in a New Zealand harbour by French intelligence agents. Narratively confusing as director Riccardo Pellizzeri can’t decide whether to stick with the activists, the state terrorists, their bureaucratic overseers, or the Kiwi cops investigating it all.

(T)ERROR title screen
Terrifying documentary by Lyric R Cabral and David Felix Sutcliffe looking at Saeed ‘Shariff’ Torres, an ageing former Black Panther with more than a hint of the Walter Mitty about him, who claims to be something of a freelance undercover agent for the FBI. In time we come to realise that he is indeed a paid informer on a long leash, as the documentary’s second subject, Muslim convert Khalifah al Akili, is scooped up by the Fed’s shortly before he is scheduled to appear at a press conference decrying Torres’ bumbling attempts at getting him to confess to non-existent terrorist plots.

The scariest thing of all? Torres is not alone – he is one of an estimated fifteen thousand such provocateurs and snitches.

A Week In Film #431: Minor

Hell Is For Heroes title screen
Hell Is For Heroes
Minor war movie from Don Siegel, which whilst not wholly memorable is notable for being one of Steve McQueen’s earliest starring roles. Here he is a battle-hardened and battle-weary former NCO who is assigned to a unit which was expecting to be rotated off the front line. Naturally this means it almost immediately faces a surprise German attack; McQueen soon has to take charge.

Not original, but very competent.

London Boulevard title screen
London Boulevard
Low key, noirish character-based crime drama/thriller, based on a book I haven’t read by an author I hadn’t heard of.

Colin Farrell is exemplary in the lead as a recently released con drawn back into a life he wanted to leave, Anna Friel his loopy sister, Keira Knightley the movie star he builds a doomed relationship with. Directed with conviction and style by William Monahan, who scripted the similarly hazy The Departed. Strong hints of Mike Hodges’ work – Get Carter, Croupier and I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead.

Nice if underwritten turns from Stephen Graham, David Thewlis and Ben Chaplin, with Ray Winstone as an horrific gang boss.

Interview With A Serial Killer title screen
Interview With A Serial Killer
Straight forward talking head type documentary by Christopher Martin with multiple murderer Arthur Shawcross, who died not long after.

A Week In Film #430: All new, even the old

Free State Of Jones
Serious-minded historical business about a soil-scratcher from Mississippi who leaves the Confederate Army during the Civil War and leads an insurrection against slavery. With Matthew McConaughey, Mahershala Ali and Gugu Mbatha-Raw, directed by Gary Ross.

Being George Clooney
Fun documentary by Paul Mariano, interviewing various dubbing artistes around the world responsible for rerecording the silver-maned Hollywood star’s lines into their own languages.

Murder, My Sweet
Dick Powell plays against his usual light musical-comedy type to be the first big screen Philip Marlowe in a particularly hardboiled noir helmed by Edward Dmytryk, based on Raymond Chandler’s novel Farewell, My Lovely.

Marlowe is hired to locate a missing girlfriend by recently-released con Moose Malloy (Mike Mazurki); soon the trail is littered with red herrings and corpses.

Theo Who Lived
Affecting documentary about a brassic American journo who tried to report on the Syrian Civl War, but who was kidnapped by local Al Qaeda affiliate the Al Nusra Front virtually immediately after reaching the Turkey-Syria border.

Whilst much of it is simply Theo Padnos recounting all that happened to him during the course of his two year ordeal – involving a good deal of torture, and ending with a good deal of PTSD – there are also disorientating little reconstructions, and well-placed little pieces of VT which add context and depth. Director David Schisgall is to be commended on this powerful film.

Rogue Trader title screen
Rogue Trader
Not terrible drama about Nick Leeson bringing down Barings Bank, with Ewan McGregor in the lead, Anna Friel as his unsuspecting wife, with roles for Tim McInnerny, Lee Ross and Nigel Lindsay. Perfunctory direction by James Dearden, best known for being Basil’s son, directing Pascali’s Island and for making the TVM which was refilled as Fatal Attraction.

Snowden title screen
Oliver Stone makes an interesting story seem unbelievable by throwing in showy shit for no real reason. Joseph Gordon-Levitt broods a lot as the NSA contractor, Melissa Leo, Zachary Quinto and Tom Wilkinson do some solid impersonating, with the best roles going to Rhys Ifans and Timothy Elephant as a fictional pair of blood-curdling CIA sabre-rattlers.